There’s something so terrifically exciting for a child to stay the night at someone else’s house. It’s different from just going over for a play or a visit. You get a real insight into how other people live, what rituals they have and what they look like when they wake up in the morning!
As a youngster I was always up for a sleepover, to the point that Mum would throw me a stern glare when I’d ask in front of a friend if they could stay the night. “It puts me in a difficult position to say no,” she’d say. That was the idea.
I can see the pattern recurring with my own children, whose eyes light up when they find out they’re off for a sleepover or someone is staying at our place. They quickly start sorting out teddies and clothes to pack for a night out or pulling out mattresses and blankets for a guest.
Some months ago when a nephew was staying over, I was transported back to my childhood and the ritual of staying the night with my cousins. Once the lights went out the quiet chatter and stifled giggles began. “Boys,” I warned, feigning my disapproval. It didn’t make any difference, the banter continued. I decided to let them go.
Instead I text messaged my cousin and partner in childhood sleepover antics to fill him in on the situation unfolding. We pinged each other a series of messages reliving the fun “My god, they are some of the best memories of my childhood,” he said. I could hear the joy through his words “I remember we used to get told to shut up but it wouldn’t matter.”
He was right, they were some of the best childhood memories. We were constantly harassing our parents for a sleepover and knew that if we kept at it we would eventually wear them down and get our way.
Around the same time I was recruited by an elderly neighbour to be her babysitter when her husband was on overnight work trips. It was a novelty to spend the night at someone else’s place on a school night. My payment was a plate of tinned spaghetti and a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice for breakfast. Life didn’t get much better than this.
Slumber parties took the sleepover to a whole new level. A roomful of giggling girls was any parent’s worst nightmare. I recall my very generous Mum saying “You can have a slumber party if you’re going to slumber.” I considered the response albeit I was a little perplexed. Slumber had an actual meaning and it wasn’t trying to pin your eyes open all night to see who could make it to sunrise?
Sleepovers evolve with you. As a young adult they often arise from necessity like finding a place in the corner to curl up after a wild party. Or you’re travelling and a friend of a friend has offered accommodation for the night. This scenario can present any kind of outcome.
My husband and I were kindly offered a place to stay one night while we were travelling, long before we married. The timing was a little unfortunate as the couple we were staying with had only just moved in together, that day. We were settling in for the night when we heard some very soft squeaking. My husband looked around like a meerkat, I joked that it was probably a bed. With the realisation that it was in fact a bed squeaking in the other room to its gentle rhythmical movement we both buried our heads in our pillows trying desperately to stifle our laughter.
Seems you’re never too old to enjoy a sleepover.