The Adventures Of Fatherhood – August 13, 2021

The word “sleepover” makes me cringe whenever the request is made.

For one thing, the term is a misnomer. A more accurate word would be “stayover” because just about everything happens except for sleep.

I dread these stayovers. I want my son to have fun with his friends. It’s important, but I wish these hangout sessions did not involve staying the night. An end time would be nice. I would be fine with driving my son’s friends home at 11 p.m. if it meant sleep would be had.

Some may say an easier track would be to instill an iron first on lights out time, which we do with our 13-year-old Beckett most nights. We make an exception on stayover nights. We probably need a new approach, but with the change would result in a rate of desire to stay over plummeting. The precedent has already been set.

Enter here a conversation we had with Beckett at 2:20 on Sunday morning when we were awoken with what sounded like a fraternity party in his room. I had been to his room about an hour earlier telling him to start wrapping it up and quiet down. It was lowered to a mild roar for a bit before getting out of hand again.

It was so loud I was convinced more kids somehow got in the room when there should only be two. Between multiple Facetime conversations going on, the voices were misleading. They were essentially having a party with about a dozen people dancing, screaming, arguing, joking, jumping and pranking each other virtually. All in all, they were having a ball, but also being rude to others sleeping in the house.

When the patience ran thin, we had Beckett come to our room and he stormed in with an attitude we are becoming quite accustomed to from our teen. “What?,” he said in an accusatory fashion. It was clear he thought we were being unfair asking him to keep it down and then saying 2:30 in the morning is late enough to stay up.

After a back-and-forth exchange, it quieted down. He came back into our room shortly after 3 apologizing saying he was just worked up because they were having so much fun. Wishing desperately to not get into it again, we said it’s time to call it a night. He said, “we are now, we are exhausted.”

When I got up a few hours later, I walked into his room and it was as expected. It looked like a bomb had gone off. There was food everywhere. Lacrosse equipment was hanging from a ceiling fan. Chips were littered across the room. Empty bags of junk food not purchased by us were spread out across furniture. Lamp shades were flipped upside down. Blankets were strewn all around the place. About 10 half-full water bottles dotted window sills. The two boys were both passed out in separate beds with no blankets. Each had one sock on for some reason.

Hours later, when Pam and I had agreed they had slept enough, the room looked the exact same way and neither kid had moved an inch. I woke Beckett up and told him to get his buddy and come downstairs. When I told him it was after 11 in the morning, he said, “oh it’s so early, it’s summer.”

An hour later, I had lost my patience and forced the issue. It was time to get up. He said, “but it’s raining.” It didn’t matter.

A few hours later, I learned Beckett and his buddy had cooked up what they later called a “double,” evidently a term for back-to-back stayovers (again sleepover is not to be used). After staying at our place the first night, they wanted to relocate to the buddy’s house and add another friend.

My immediate reaction was no, and I sent them on their way. They were clearly exhausted as was I from the lack of sleep. What they really needed was a shower, some vegetables, a bout of exercise and a nap. I was not even entertaining it. In her gentle way, Pam began asking me if it was the right call. She reminded me it was summer, and he hadn’t seen his friends from school much of late. I again resisted. She said she got it.

As prone to do after some time, my guilty conscience changed my mind. Once I thought it through and realized we did not have to be the responsible adults that night, I pulled an about-face and said it was fine. I did make the boys clean up the room, throw out all the garbage and find those socks. I also made my own kid shower, brush his teeth and run the vacuum. He did it all without a fuss.

When I dropped him at his friend’s house, I knew he would be up all night. When it was time for pick up, Pam said they didn’t stay up all night actually. Beckett told her they went to bed at 6:30. He said technically it’s not an all-nighter if you go to sleep at some point.

For several days after, Beckett was a mess. He was exhausted. I told him a few times this is why we don’t think you should stay up all night. The brain and body can’t handle it. He replied he got it but that it was worth it.

I think I said the same thing to myself a couple times in college when I stayed up all night with friends “studying.”

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.