I think last night was a record for us–we had TEN KIDS in the house overnight, eight of whom were teenage boys! As John and I sat on the front porch I remarked to him that some people might be fazed by such a gathering but as I have so often remarked when people make awestruck comments about the amount of kids we have, the only difference between three kids and any larger number is the noise level (and the food consumption!).
Last night was noteworthy because the guests weren’t all Teddy’s, which was the case at past sleepovers; this time Jake asked his two best friends over as well. Up until recently Jake has refused every time I suggested he invite friends over. “There’s nothing to do here,” he would say. By “nothing to do” he means that we don’t have a television, or a video game system, or a pool table.
This makes me sad, and I was beginning to wonder if with all the technology available to them, kids have forgotten how to make their own fun. I graduated from high school in 1985, and I participated in dozens of slumber parties, without technological assistance! My grandmother bought a VCR when I was–I think–a Senior, and it was a special treat to bring friends over to her house to watch a movie of our choice (picked up at the local shopping center, from a place called “Dorothy’s Fashions and Movies Plus!”). But most people could not afford VCRs. If it got late and we wanted to watch t.v., we were stuck with such late-night gems as “Who Slew Auntie Roo?”
Frankly, though, the t.v. was rarely turned on. We listened to records, we made prank phone calls, we talked about boys, we played Truth or Dare, we performed makeovers on each other, we went on long walks in the woods or through the neighborhoods, we played “Light as a feather, Stiff as a board,” we played board games, and I could go on. We had so much fun! Now, we were girls, of course, and I’m sure that the boys were not doing most of the things I have just listed, but somehow I don’t think they were sitting in the house, bored and moping and waiting for the xBox to be invented.
When I ask my boys what they did at sleepovers at other kids’ houses, playing video games and watching movies are the activities they most often describe. We may not have video games, but we have something that most of the kids’ friends do not: the ability to legally build fires in our back yard. That’s what Jake and his friends did. This was after they had gone on roughly a six mile walk in the rural areas to the south and west of our property. Teddy and his friends started off their fun with a trip to the mall (the same mall that my friends and I once wandered through–oh, how much I now despise malls!). I ordered pizzas when they got home (my mother’s cooking was always a highlight of my slumber parties, and I’m a great cook too, but apparently boys prefer pizza). Apparently the fun continued after the grown ups went to bed with a drinking game that involved playing cards, perhaps something like this. (Don’t stress out; there was no alcohol in our house last night. They played the game with water. The glasses and pitchers were all sitting on the kitchen table when I came down this morning. As opposed to the typical drinking game where the challenge is to not pass out, the challenge here is not to visit the bathroom during the game!)
This morning I went out and bought juice and doughnuts. Everyone was gone by noon and the house is quiet (actually that sounds good but it isn’t true; Lorelei and William make as much noise as anyone else and they are refusing to leave my office.).