Kids never fail to stump you. Last week, with spring break approaching, my 16-year-old son asked if he could go to a friend’s house for a sleepover. Now before you say, “Of course he should be able to go,” let me set the context. This is a kid who never liked sleepovers. On more than one occasion, his father or I were summoned to a friend’s house in the middle of the night to pick up our homesick son.
As he grew older, he attended scout camps and gradually became used to spending the night away from home. However, he never really went to a sleepover. His friends have spent the night in our house and they’ve camped out on the family room floor, but he hasn’t gone to their houses.
OK, so you say it’s time he did. I wanted to agree, but then I began asking all those “mom questions.” Whose house? How was he getting there? Who was going to be there? Would the parents be home? Would there be alcohol?
As the answers unfolded, it became clear that he wanted to spend the night with a friend he didn’t know that well and whom I didn’t know at all. The invited guests included at least two teen-age girls. He didn’t know if there would be alcohol.
Red flags were waving in my head. I said no, he couldn’t go if girls would be there and the parents wouldn’t be. I also insisted on meeting the parents to confirm they would be home that night.
It turned out that the sleepover was canceled. I breathed a sigh of relief.
But the question remains: Is there a point when sleepovers are a bad idea?
Liz Atwood is a former Baltimore Sun features editor who teaches journalism at Hood College. She is the mother of two sons, ages 11 and 16.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun