I caved, and I got what I deserved

By Mir
February 25, 2008

Do you remember a while back when I decided that I wasn’t going to let my children have any sleepovers until they were, I dunno, TWENTY? Actually, I think I’ve decided this MULTIPLE times, on account of sleepovers are a tool of the devil. Children are lured in by promises of extra-big fun—surely far huger than a normal playdate, because there’s a decent chance of a sleepover involving bacon—and then something tragic inevitably happens.

You doubt? Allow me to remind you of Exhibit A. Sure, that was years ago, but the point is that SLEEPOVERS ARE A TOOL OF THE DEVIL. I know I said that already, but it’s totally true. And I’ve been pretty good at avoiding them, so far, but then my daughter went and befriended a kid who lives about an hour away.

And suddenly a sleepover sounded less like “tool of the devil” and more like “much-desired playdate for the children and an evening out for us grown-ups.”

See, it went like this: Nightingale is Chickadee’s BFF, and we’d had her over to the house after school a couple of times, and her mom kept mentioning the possibility of a sleepover, but no plans were ever made. And then we got an official invitation, one that was so official it suggested that Monkey come, too, to play with Nightingale’s little brother (who’s about the same age).

By this time, we’d met both parents, it was obvious that all the kids played together really well, and so I caved. Yes! Sure! Go have a sleepover, why not?

Now, the unusual circumstances of going to school about an hour from where they actually live (which is a whole ‘nother story, and not entirely relevant, I suppose) has made sleepovers a way of life for this family, it seems. I think the parents must possess a level of patience I’m unlikely to achieve in this incarnation. Either that, or they’re INSANE. Because in addition to my two kids? They’d also packed up FOUR OTHERS. Eight children between eight and ten, running amok for twenty-four hours.

Needless to say, my kids had a blast. When we drove out there after church yesterday to bring them home, they all but asked if maybe this other family could just adopt them. Apparently they’d passed the time frolicking in a nearby mud pit and/or engaging in gender wars. Good times.

I had packed each child a couple of sets of clothes, per the instructions I was given. I knew they were going to be out in the mud, you see. But when we arrived yesterday, Chickadee was dressed entirely in clothes of Nightingale’s, and Monkey was wearing the outfit he’d worn the day before. Hmmmm.

Me: Chickie, why are you wearing Nightingale’s clothes?
Her: Mine were dirty. Her mom gave me these to wear.
Me: ALL of yours were dirty?
Her: Yeah, I guess.


Me: Monkey, why are you wearing your clothes from yesterday?
Him: They were on top.
Me: They were… wait, did you SLEEP in those clothes?
Him: No, I wore pajamas.
Me: Oh, okay. Good. So last night you took those off and put on pajamas?
Him: Yes!
Me: Okay, and what did you do with those clothes, then?
Him: I put them in my bag!
Me: Ah, I see. So this morning—
Him: —they were on top, so I put them on!

A peek inside their bags revealed that Monkey hadn’t disturbed a thing (save for taking out his jammies and stuffed puppy for bedtime, I guess), and Chickadee had changed her clothes once, gotten filthy, and then forgotten she had another change of clothes in there and instead opted for borrowed clothing.

All of which is fine, of course. The fact that Chickadee borrowed a WHITE shirt and promptly spilled hot chocolate all over herself is JUST A BONUS. (The shirt has been washed three times, now. I’ll give it one more try before I return it.)

What is LESS fine is that the crying started before we even left their house to come back home. First Monkey began unraveling over… something… I’m not sure what. The other boys weren’t WAITING for him! He had NOT knocked that item off the counter! And was it time to go ALREADY? Why, they’d had at least five hours of sleep, you know, and would be just fine playing just a little bit longer, you know.

We’d been in the car approximately six minutes when the squabbling reached a volume that caused Otto to declare “EVERYONE STOP TALKING. WE ARE DRIVING HOME IN SILENCE.”

There was some grumbling, and then Chickadee read a book while Monkey… fell asleep.

Back home, life was tragic. It was tragic that I asked them to take their bags upstairs. It was tragic when I told them we’d need to work on their science projects as much as possible because we have a busy week. It was EXTRA TRAGIC that Otto and I had spent some of our precious free time while they were gone going to the outlets and buying Chickadee some clothes that aren’t too small for her—I know, it doesn’t sound tragic, but hear it through—because that meant that I needed her to TRY THINGS ON and allow me to remove things that are too small from her dresser.

(Yes, it’s true. If you’re about to turn 10, I may use all of my ill-gotten despotic power to suggest that you don’t really need to hang on to those size 6X shorts. GO FIGURE.)

I put them both to bed last night at 7:00, and neither of them complained, possibly because they were too tired to argue. This morning they were bleary and grumpy and I tried to remember why I thought a sleepover would be okay. Sure, you get 24 hours of freedom… but is it worth the following 48 hours of sleep deprivation hangover that they come home with?

Next time, I should probably make sure I spend the time they’re gone drinking heavily, so that I’m ready when they get back.


  1. Megan

    It’s the parental version of the all-night bender. Sure the next morning you have the hangover from hell, but just let the scars fade a bit and you’ll be talking yourself into another 24-hour screwdriver lollapalooza before you know it. I think it’s easier on the liver though.

  2. carson

    While I marvel at the lack of comments, I also must tell you that I clear out the old clothes while my daughter is away at the sleepover. Except her only sleepovers are with my dad. That may change now that she’s all public-school-attending, though.

  3. All Adither

    Hmm. I never considered that aspect of sleepovers. I will beware. Also, kids that age still get whiny when they’re deprived of their rest?…Ugh.

  4. MomCat

    I hate sleepovers, too. Ugh. Are they whiny, grumpy, unbearable after a sleepover? Yeah. They inevitably lead to my daughter getting sick and, if I’m the hostess, to me going insane.

    School trips are the worst. The class descriptions read: “The kids will travel to a remote location and then spend four days and three nights screaming like maniacs, climbing high ropes courses, not eating and not sleeping. On our return, you will pick up an exhausted, filthy, sick child who has lost half of the expensive camping gear you just bought, and who doesn’t remember a thing about ecology, which was the point of the trip. Really. Oh – and the cost of the trip is $800.”


  5. Flea

    I just love sleepovers. At my house. And I can send the children home to torture the parents and send mine for a nap. Lots of sugar and caffeine just before sending them all home. Good times.

    OxyClean is a marvel. Couple of heaping Tablespoons in a large mixing bowl of very hot water, let the shirt sit all day in it, then give it another once through the wash. I swear by it.

    Now aren’t you glad it’s Monday and your children are at school?

  6. Sue

    I completely agree! I do WHATEVER I can to avoid the dreaded sleepover invitations. On occassion there is nothing I can do and I have to deal with the inevitable. You can’t say it enough times, TOOL OF THE DEVIL!!

  7. Linda

    Okay everyone hate me. My daughter had a slumber/birthday party Saturday night. There were 10 girls aged 8 and 9. It actually went very, very well. Of course not sure how they all fared once they got home, but the minute the last girl was gone the next morning we all took a nap (no questions asked from the birthday girl either).

    Of course I did get a few comments from the parents about how now the box had been opened the slumber parties were going to be expected now.

    On the clothes thing, my daughter hates trying clothes on as well. Does that just come with being 9?

  8. BethR

    I just read the other sleepover story… your kids usually go to bed at 7:30?!? If my child goes to bed at 7:30 it’s because he has a fever of over 102. He goes to bed at 9 and is usually asleep before 10, but back when he still went to day care and they enforced naps he was frequently still awake at 11, even with a 9 PM bedtime.

    Maybe this ties into the ‘how parents who work do it’; I’m not sure how we could manage if we needed a 7:30 bedtime, since we all only get home at 6. I don’t think an hour and a half would be enough to get us all fed and done with homework and bedded down.

  9. Lori

    Ahh sleep-overs. I’m one of the strange ones who actually likes them. Of course, that could be because for kidling #1’s b-day MY 3 best friends slept over too. Wine & adult conversation while the girls ran wild until 11 when we decided to sit in the living room to ensure the kids were quiet (most fell asleep within 5 minutes). We stayed up for another couple of hours chatting then went to bed. The kids up at 6am to fix themselves breakfast (set out the night before) and we big girls slept until 8!

    But I agree – the day after can be hell. But I figure it is worth it – I get the whining anyway, why not have some fun or time off the day before so I can deal with it a little better. (Momma is always happier if she’s had lots of sleep or time with friends!)

  10. Therese

    Let me warn you–it doesn’t get any better with age. My teenaged son (17) likes to have buddies over to play marathon sessions of Xbox, which don’t end usually until 2-3 a.m. It’s not too bad when they stay in the basement family room, but when they bring their large feet and man voices into the kitchen (right under my bedroom) looking for food at 1 a.m., the evil mom does come out. At least son is old enough not to whine the next day about how tired he is!

  11. mammafor2

    Thank you for the warning!!! Mine are not old enough, at this time. However, I will beware of the Devils tool!!! Now, I have to go take all the small clothes out of my kiddos rooms, they are so little I can just push them aside if they complain! LOL! :)

  12. Lucinda

    Straight peroxide works really well for removing hot chocolate. My daughter has spilled on white shirts many, many, times. Never the dark ones though. Hmmmm……

  13. Tammy

    Yes, this is the price you pay for an evening of adult alone time: grumpy, over-stimulated, over-tired children. But, the night alone was worth it, right? Ok, maybe not so much. ;)

  14. Mara

    I can’t imagine anything cooler than parents who let kids play in the mud. Seriously. AND have massive sleepovers. Do you think they’d adopt ME?

    Also, I remember the Growing Days and having to try on EVERYTHING I OWNED periodically so that my mom could figure out what to keep and what to donate/ hand down to my sister. For some reason, it really is tragic! I always got so attached to too-small sweatshirts and such, and hated trying stuff on to begin with…

  15. jennielynn

    You are fast approaching the time when buying any clothes for your daughter, without her express approval, is a betrayal on a scale with throwing away all chilhood mementos. Just sayin’.

    I almost bought an adorable sundress for DQ yesterday and my husband asked, “Are you sure you want to do that?” He knows his eldest well.

  16. Vane

    I allow my daughter to go on periodic sleepovers with her BFF (but only with her). Her parents and I are very good friends too so I usually stay over to have a glass of wine while the kids play and help the mom to get them to bed, sometimes I even stay til 1 a.m. chatting with the mom! So it is actually lots of fun for both of us.

    The very first time she went she came home all whiny and I told her that if that was going to be the deal if she was allowed to sleep over at her friend’s house then that was it! Has never happened again hehe :)

    I hope at least the kid-free night was enjoyable!

  17. SherE1

    My husband hates when our 11 yo goes to a slumber party because she’s useless to us the next day. Just sleeps for the whole day! I’ve come to realize it’s not even worth it (for myself and husband) unless we can somehow get the parents of the “sleep-over-ee” to agree to take our other 3 kids as well. A sort of 4-for-1 deal. Unfortunately, no one is ever game.

  18. LuAnn

    Thanks for the warnings, Mir. No sleepovers for my kids! :)

  19. Heidi

    All Adither? You asked “kids that age still get whiny when they’re deprived of their rest?…Ugh.”

    Um. I have a group of far-flung friends who enjoy sleepovers with “the girls” every so often. We stay up too late, I never sleep well, and I wake up cranky. I’m ALL GROWN UP and I get whiny when I’m deprived of rest.

  20. Wendy

    Maybe the other parents do these sleep overs to remind themsleves why they don’t have 8 kids. And the high they get when they are back down to their 2. Really that is insanity.

    These sleepovers sound the same as my daughter spending the afternoon at her friends house. It doesn’t matter that some of the older girls abuse her (not really, but in her telling this is what happens)the entire time she is there, it is still way better than living with us. I mean all we do it buy her things, love her and give her food. How dare we treat her so well, when there is another family out there with the coolest 9 yrs old in the world?

  21. Jodi

    We had this problem with our kids on their first few sleepovers. Finally we made a new rule. If they are grumpy, obnoxious, disobedient, or just annoying after the sleepover THERE WILL BE NO MORE SLEEPOVERS! Yes I am yelling. Try it in a preacher type voice and you will get the gist of it. :)

    We had to cancel one sleepover per kid before they figured it out. Now my oldest (she is 12) comes home and goes immediately to take a nap. Our second daughter finds the t.v. and veges for about an hour before she is able to socialize with us humans.

    I won’t hesitate to call off another sleepover if they get out of hand after being at one or hosting one.

  22. carrien

    Industrial degreaser, with orange oil, usually works on my chocolate stains. Since it’s a grease stain and all.

  23. Don Mills Diva

    Uggg – that sounds brutal! Definitely stock up on booze for the next one!

  24. wendy

    My son (an only) has been rotating sleepovers with the same three boys since third grade. He’s in seventh now.

    They get together every few months and the other parents have been very good about the rotation. It works out to once or twice a year that we have to host.

    A few things fell naturally into place. Sleepover nights only happen on Fridays, bedtimes are at the discretion of the parents hosting, all kids must be claimed between 9a and 10a on Saturday. A sleepover can be canceled (and has) on short notice (day of) due to behavior/school issues.

    What’s really cool is that these kids became friends because they were all in the same class 3rd grade. They were never all in the same class again and now that they’re in middle school they’re even more dispersed – yet every 3 to 4 months there is a sleepover Friday where they stay up almost all night and eat junk food, play video games and talk.

    Overhearing the talking is the best part. They are great kids and seem to get along really well. Hopefully their friendship will survive their teen years.

  25. Daisy

    But Mir, try DAWN on that stain!!

  26. Tracey

    I’m in the “I don’t understand sleepovers” camp. From the point of view of the fallout afterwards. Sure, being one kid down is nice, but I don’t know if it’s worth it.

    I also hate to have them at my place. I once had to call a mum to collect her kid at 2am because she was crying. Admittedly she was 4, the staying over had been a favour after I’d taken her to swimming lessons with my kid while her mother took her little brother to the doctors. Plus my kids (then 5 and 7 acted up.) The only other time I let my then 9 yr old have a friend over, she kept me awake because she was bored because her friend went to sleep and she couldn’t sleep. Then she was too hot. Etc. Etc. Uggh.

    Now I occasionally let the older ones go, as long as the other parents know I’m not into reciprocating. 12 yr old went to one on Friday night, and was a complete toad at home here on Saturday night.

    What the heck is wrong with going to a party – having dinner even, then coming home, like adults usually do!

  27. carolyn

    I’m with Tracey. We have compromised on “dinner, movie, board games, go home” parties and everyone seemed happy and content. I HATE sleepovers, expecially if I host. And I’m glad to see so many of you agree. I feel like I am in the minority here in my little corner of the world.

  28. Susan

    No. It is never worth it. My kids are useless for DAYS after a non-sleep “sleepover” like that.

    Recently, I begrudgingly let my 12yo go to a sleepover at his after-school care center. (He is an 8pm bedtime kid, incidentally. And trust me, HE NEEDS IT.) He & his best friend promised me they’d go to bed, despite what everyone else did, by 10pm. Good enough, I (stupidly) figured. At 10:30pm he called me, near tears, because he had something in his eye. He got some eye drops and calmed down and assured me he’d go right to sleep. I was an IDIOT for not picking him up right then. At 2:00 a.m., when I had a FEVER and sore throat from hell just starting, he called me to pick him up because he “couldn’t sleep.” The rage I felt inside of me was beyond words. Or maybe it was just the intense fever rising inside of me–who knows.

    NEVER AGAIN truly might be NEVER AGAIN after that. UGH!

  29. Susan

    Oh, and might I add that I don’t mind the sleepovers at MY house so much because I am the meanest mom in the world and actually MAKE the kids GO TO SLEEP (I threaten that they’ll never be invited to another one if they don’t – I’m sweet like that). I let my daughter (8) and her friends stay up about 90 minutes past HER usual bedtime (so, NLT than 9-9:30) and my son (12) and his friends can stay up til about 10pm. I absolutely refuse to let me kids try to function on less than 8 hours of sleep… REFUSE. So, for that reason, I’d much rather have them over to our house than allow my kids to go to anyone else’s. Nothing I love hearing more than, “We had so much fun! Kristin’s mom let us stay up til after MIDNIGHT and we got to have REAL COKE and lots of CANDY and we didn’t even have to brush our TEETH! The OCD control freak in me can’t handle “news” like that.

  30. Erin

    Oxyclean will get the chocolate out of the shirt as long as it hasn’t been dried in the dryer yet.

    I’m 20 and I still don’t do sleepovers well… and college is one big sleepover. I’ve been grumpy from sleep deprivation for two years. :-)

  31. sophie

    Ah yes, I have to sneak some of the 6-8 sixed clothing out in the dead of night (or when they are at their mother’s). And, I made the hormonal one actually TRY ON SHORTS I had purchased her. There were many deep sighs, but she did it without tears. I thought it would be easy since she was still in her PJs, silly me.

    I have just made a promise of a sleepover (one guest per twin) in the near future. Perhaps I should have come here first. I was already thinking the hubby would be at the Super8 that night.

    I second the Oxyclean recommendation.

  32. Meg

    On my prom night, I wanted to go out…uh… I forget. And my mom didn’t want me to go, so said I could have a sleepover! With boys! In the living room! And we could stay up ALL night and play games and then cook ourselves breakfast! It was the coolest after-prom party ever!

    (In retrospect, I think my parents were secretly high-fiving each other that I would be sober and wearing all my clothes on prom night.)

  33. Kirsetin

    My newly 9-year old had a birthday slumber party last Saturday. We are STILL reeling from the after-effects. I keep telling myself it’s a bad idea, and then someone else’s birthday rolls around… This year, I asked my husband – who was making pizza – if it would be poor form to answer the door with a big, fat glass of red wine in hand. Yes, we both agreed, terrible form. Definitely wait until later.

  34. Maria

    Hi! This sounds like me talking! I hate sleepovers, too. We had one slumber party at my house, and never again. My kids only get a few sleepovers, and usually only 1 kid is allowed over. I make them promise they will go to bed at 12 (because it usually ends up 1), or NEVER AGAIN! I’m going to blog about this.

  35. Nicole

    Wow, I never knew, although I should not be surprised. We are the most unscheduled family, and yet change still manages to cause havoc. And I just wanted to say we all went to camp for a week once, and thursday was mandatory shower day (some of us showered more often). My brother took his shower, but put on the same clothes he’d been wearing all week (including underwear). Ahh, 8 yo boys.

  36. D.B.

    I just call them “awakeovers.”

    My 14-y.o. son still likes to have a friend over sometimes. At least they’re totally self-sufficient now. I don’t have to do a dang thing for them. They know where the food is.

    Last weekend, they pulled an all-nighter. Video games and Nick at Nite until 7 a.m.

    Yeah, sometimes it’s annoying, but when I compare it to what I was doing at 14, they’re angels. And he’s here at home where I know what he’s doing.

  37. emma

    Okay, that is totally my life. Except that I have four kids and somehow I’m always the one with eight kids at my house (because all four need a friend to sleep over) and I’m never the one with an empty house. Too funny!

  38. Shannon

    Hmm, my mom used to let me have about 5 friends overnight during my early teens for birthdays. Extra flowers on Mother’s Day, perhaps? ;)

  39. Angel in KY

    Ok, NOW I’m scared! I have 3 kids, ages range from 16 down to 4~Only daughter turns 9 in May, and I finally agreed to a birthday/sleepover. Oh noooooooo~she’s already showing signs of hatred towards me (and I thought I had a couple more years), so, if I cancel this…..It will push her competely over the deep end. Crap. Crap. Crap.

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