13 May 2012
social commentary Sunday . . . 'the sleepover check list & . . . police check'
This is a post on the old . . . is my child old enough/ do i know the family well enough . . . for a sleepover topic. Sleepovers with friends were our first children-away-for-the-night experience. I always covered the basics & ran a police check in my head - do i know the parents well, have they ever mentioned a spell in prison, drink driving, neighbours running a meth lab, a savage dog, a creepy uncle & what is the general vibe. I have to admit, generally i have known the family for years first & i'd much rather children come to my house than mine to theirs.
One dear friend of mine, who i'd rate as completely normal, would say things like "i always invite children here, you might notice my children have never gone to a sleepover, not worth the risk" . . . ironically while handing out slumber party invitations!! She'd offer a full run down of the night's schedule, guest list & contact numbers, very thorough . . . i was waiting to sign an indemnity contract from her solicitor (giggles) but i liked it, she put you at ease that it was a well supervised event.
I will admit, i have skirted around & avoided many sleepover invitations if it doesn't feel right. A party i was considering years ago . . . i commented to the mother "oh, you're brave, 12 x 8 year old girls" & she replied jovially "oh, we'll just leave a couple of DVDs for them & go out for dinner". I quickly burned that invitation & told my daughter she wasn't going to the party - to my surprise she said the party girl was "a bit weird anyway" - instincts!! Warning: just as a conversation starter when you RSVP, ask if the parents are actually going to be there too!!
So on Friday night when my 10 year old twins trotted off to a sleepover with 10 other school friends, i had not met the parents before, so i chatted away to get a vibe: the father was military police, the daughter is an only child, they're about to move interstate . . . the other much-more-wary-than-me-parents were letting their girls stay too, i felt Ok with this & didn't use my 'we have something early on in the morning, i'll collect them at 9 tonight' emergency excuse.
So when i collected the girls & my middle daughter proceeded to burst open her lolly bag of Skittles which sprayed all over the car (we'd never eaten Skittles before, they are revolting but easy to vacuum up) they gave me a run down of the night, from eating pizza & braiding each other's hair to watching Sex And The City. Sorry what now?? I asked calmly "what did you think of that show" & my 3rd daughter said "it was a bit boring, didn't really understand it, so we watched The Ugly Truth instead". Great, another M-rated-sex-based-movie!! I don't mind my children watching an M movie on occasion, with me, so i can say "that's not appropriate for you" or um, "Samantha Jones has enough sex for everyone in the world." You know, control the situation, like when your child asks "do you want longer lasting sex??" from the billboard on the highway. I'm pretty aware of what children are exposed to on the radio, television ads & primary school playground chatter, so i set them straight about what they heard - so they don't use words like "threesome, wanker & orgasm" in class. You can't control your own environment anymore - pull up along side a car blasting "bitch rape" rap lyrics & playing porn on an in-car-screen?? You can't walk about with ear muffs & blind folds on your children. I find the most offensive language is actually heard walking behind teenagers at a shopping centre!!
Anyway, back to my children . . . when my husband Skyped in & asked how the party went, i told him what the girls had seen & he said "Jennieeeeeee, no, you don't know this family." He of course is right, no matter how annoying & correct his parenting is from the other side of the world. Even a seasoned primary school parent like me gets it wrong. I love that my daughters told me so openly, as i know many of their friends will keep it a secret & possibly be having nightmares about Samantha doing things their mother has never mentioned about sex!! What i found MOST disappointing about the whole issue was - one sweet girl piped up bravely & said "i don't think i'm allowed to watch this" & the birthday girl said "i know, let's take a vote, that you go to sleep & we watch it". That was downright nasty. I told my daughters that it was a great opportunity for them to step up & say "i agree, i don't think we should watch it or exclude anyone at a party" & bless them, they agreed they should have.
Ever had a party hiccup like this before?? Found yourself explaining to your 10 year olds that Samantha "must have been a gymnast" at 9a.m. on a Saturday morning?? FYI the MP husband - he was asleep, on slumber-party-movie-police-duty!! Love Posie
PS just in case you've never seen Sex And The City (movies or series) Samantha Jones is the fabulous & feisty tall blonde PR guru who has sex with an average of 3 guys each episode - it's rarely bedroom sex either, often some entertaining twist (balcony, desk, wardrobe with lots of boobage) & always explained in detail to her girlfriends the following day over lunch, just in case you missed it visually. The Ugly Truth is basically a movie about how men get women into bed.