Thursday, August 11, 2011

I survived my son's first sleepover party

and all I got was this little frisson of social anxiety.

Si's birthday celebration choice was to have seven, or eight, or maybe nine--"let me look through the school directory again real quick, Mom"--of his closest friends over for a sleepover. On his actual birthday, which did fall on a Monday this year, meaning, for the record, on a work night, and for the record let me also come right out and admit that I agreed to this arrangement. I'm not sure where in this process I conveniently forgot that this was insane.

Luckily--luckily--only four friends plus his cousin actually attended, so we had a total of six boys, who created a din that even a sleep-deprived and increasingly c-r-a-b-b-y adult could talk over when necessary (and oh, was it necessary). The night's first plan, the campout, had to be abruptly called off at 11:30 pm when the boys could not stop hootling (but there was toothpaste! in our tent!!). Plan B, which would have been nice, involved boys sleeping on couches and rugs. One solitary boy opted for this plan until 12:30 or so, when he gave up trying to sleep and asked to go home (M walked him home). Plan C involved legos, the basement, me trying to lay down the law and Silas protesting, "But it's a sleepover, Mom! That's what we DO on a sleepover!" and a very loud fan in our room. I was glad that the house was still standing in the morning and I reminded myself that Si and his friends will probably *not* be the types you can trust not to hold a Facebook rave at your house when you're out of town. Just for future reference, self.

However, now that I have caught up on my sleep and can reflect in peace, what the sleepover was the most was educational, with the topic of learning being pre-middle-school politics. Whenever the boys were eating they would talk, mostly trash talk, mostly about girls. ("P--- totally has a crush on me. It's so gross. Whenever I'm like delivering papers to her house she's all like, 'Hiiiii, I---, how arrrrre you.'" "Oh, I know! M--- has a crush on me! It's like awful! She's always asking to be in my group and stuff!") It was all chaste, thank GOD because if it wasn't I'd have felt pressured to intervene in some way. As it was, it was interesting to see who in the group held social dominance, who was observant enough of other kids' behavior to report on it and speculate about motives, and what they thought those motives were. It was also interesting to see who listened with big ears but didn't really participate. Si, for example, while he seems to have a relatively middle-to-high social status (this was a little hard to read at the party, since he was the host), didn't chime in with the trash talk at all. Oh, he listened, and laughed and groaned in all the right places. But he didn't have any stories about girls having a crush on him. (And although the fact that his MOM was washing dishes five feet away may have influenced the stories he chose to tell, this behavior tallies pretty well with the Silas I know and also my own personal growing-up self. I've never been very good at gossiping--oh, I can say the offhand snarky thing and/or put my foot in my mouth just like anyone else. But I've never been able to rivet others with stories of known-to-both third parties. In fact, Silas's game cluelessness about social snarkiness felt so familiar that for a little while I forgot that I'm a grownup and my own cluelessness doesn't matter any more.)

And when the kids were not eating, they played games, which was almost worse. Cops and robbers, mostly, only the group was lopsidedly distributed and COINCIDENTALLY the smallest, most outsiderest kids were the ones who had to be the cops when everyone played NOTIT and also had to use crutches and sticks as weapons instead of real nerf dart guns ("If this was real, the cops would TOTALLY have real guns," protested one cop-by-fiat, to which the robbers said, "But this is just a game." Which seemed to be kind of missing the point in a deliberate way.) In fact, the cops and robbers game was so on-the-edge with leftoutness that I called it off early (by using my sweet-yet-strict teacher's voice to instantly quell the meanies--I mean, ha ha, by ordering pizza. I had no other trick in my kid crowd control repertoire--clearly mistake #53 of the evening.)

Ugh. Basically it was fine. The kids were overall well-behaved and mostly followed directions and it is always illuminating to see which kids have the best manners training. I would do it again. In ten years or so.

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