Saturday, January 14, 2023

The sleep over.

 William had a sleepover. He's nearly 12 and it is the first time that he's ever been able to have a friend over. It was a big deal to him and admittedly, he is inexperienced at being 'the host'. I went into it understanding this. 

To compensate for that, I loosely planned Friday night. I picked him and his friend after school, and brought them home. I had pizza dough made. I had chopped up mushrooms, onions, peppers. cooked up some italian sausage, had a bag of pepperoni and even bacon in case we had a carnivore in the crowd. I figured that the boys could make their own pizzas, stretching the dough and deciding on their toppings. There was a cake for desert. 

After supper, the boys were headed to the roller rink, something that is relatively new to William but he enjoys quite a bit. They had two hours of unsupervised time with other kids from school. 

I also left plenty of unstructured time for just goofing around. 

Predictably, during that unstructured time, they each spent a lot of time playing video games. 

William's screen time is limited here, but hey, it's Friday night, his friend is here. I relaxed and went with the flow. They seemed to have a great time, and listening to his friend talk, I knew that William would never spend the night at his house. His father calls him 'a queer.' 

I mean, who does that to a 12 year old boy? It sounds like dad also spends a great deal of time playing video games on a 70 inch television. I listened to the boy chatter, keeping my thoughts to myself. 

After roller skating, they were in high spirits on the way home in the car. There were some girls there that were annoying. They both agreed on that. "So how did you handle that?" I asked. William answered, "We started barking at them."

"Hmmmmm," I said. "Sounds like they were not the only annoying ones at the roller rink tonight." 

They came home, grabbed water and headed right upstairs to William's room. I went up an hour and a half later to start directing them to get ready for bed. Much to my surprise, they were already in their beds, screens flickering. 

I did not like that. 

This morning, I got up. Pancakes, sausage, and eggs for breakfast. (I know, I know! TWO EGGS! I'm a wild and crazy gal.) Much to my surprise, William was downstairs sitting on the couch. I asked about his friend. 

"I'm not sure if he's awake." 

"Well, William...." It was 10AM, so I headed upstairs. William's door was open and the boy lay in his bed playing a game on his phone.

"It's time to get up now," I said. "Why don't you gather up your stuff and after breakfast, we'll run you home." 

Later, I talked to William about it, how it is rude to be at someone's house and ignore them. I also pointed out the rights and responsibilities of a host that he might have missed.

We also had a talk about the fact that we couldn't let him spend the night at his friend's house. 

"Why?" William asked, a little surprised. "His mother is very nice." 

I agreed with him but I pointed out that his father called him 'queer'. "That's pretty awful," I said. "Who talks like that to a child? Especially their own?" 

I was a little shocked to hear William say, "Queer just means wierd." 

"William, his father is calling him a faggot." When I walk to the school, I hear the taunts the boys toss at each other. His mouth dropped open and his eyes got wide. He knows that word.

I said, "If I heard an adult call you that, I'd be on their ass like a big dog. (At this, William let loose with a laugh.) Number one, in this house, being gay is not an insult. It's a fact of life. Number two,  sex  is between two people. It is not anybody else's business. Number three, there is no reason for people to make a child feel badly about themselves. If a mom doesn't get involved, she's either afraid of the dad, or she sees nothing wrong with it. The father is a bully."

William digested this. "I feel sorry for him." 

"I know you do. I do too. You can have another sleep over, but maybe invite another kid. If you are asked why, simply tell him that it is bad manners for a guest to ignore everyone and play games on his phone. I don't think he knows that."

William was quiet.

"I'm sorry if I embarrassed you. But it was obvious that you both were not interested in doing anything this morning. He could play his games at home. We've got things we can do."

William remained quiet. 

"I hope you had a good time last night, though." 

William said, "We both had fun. I need to do roller skating more often."

I apologized again if he was embarrassed. 

"I wasn't," he said. "It's okay." 

Is this how kids are these days?


39 comments:

  1. This is how many of them are, yes. They are together but each in separate worlds on their phones, doing games or social media. It's disturbing but has become the "norm."

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  2. And I have to add from my observations that I see adult couples or friends out to dinner or coffee and they are the same. Looking down at their phones a lot or constantly.

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  3. We've never really let our girls have sleepovers but they do have friends over regularly and while I don't know exactly what they are doing, i.e. if it is behind screens or not, I do know that it is very funny as they are constantly shrieking with laughter.

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    1. My youngest daughter used to invite friends over for the Harry Potter book releases. We would get up at midnight to stand in line at the book store. They would bring their books home and read all night. Reading parties.

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  4. Not just kids, I'm afraid. My sister-in-law was like that, which is perhaps one small reason amongst many others, as to why she is now my EX sister-in-law!

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    1. It is sad to see parents on their phones when their kids are trying to talk to them.

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  5. William is growing up a good balanced and thinking human being.

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  6. Oh my. I have never had children so no grandkids either. I think it all would be too complicated for me!!!

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    1. The world has certainly changed a great deal.

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  7. This was certainly an interesting read... brought back a lot of memories, sleepovers at my house or at friends homes was a way of life in the 1960s-70s! I do not understand that boy's dad though, calling his son that... if he is or isn't, that's the worst.

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    1. There are really some kids who need a bit of kindness.

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  8. Well... When my kids were little, there were no cellphones or video games. We didn't even get our kids Nintendos. They played with them at other kids' homes but not ours. Granted my son told me at one point that I was stifling his finger dexterity. Whatever the case I do notice that they limit their sons' video activity now too. Raising kids is so different now. You are just the best grandma ever, Debby!

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  9. That father is being abusive and that is all I will say about that. And I agree with you about the mother.

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  10. I like how you explain things to William. It sounds as if you discuss things honestly with him and he can discuss honestly with you too.

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    1. We have had a lot of tough conversations lately.

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  11. You are doing such a fine job with William. Job is probably the wrong word but I'm sure you know what I mean. I've not experienced anyone like the boy's father but I know they are out there, which is pretty awful.

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  12. I wish I'd had you as a mum or even a big sister. You're kind, thoughtful and teach in a very gentle manner.

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    1. I don't know. It is my aim, but I have surprised myself with my own fierceness lately.

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  13. Replies
    1. William has learned to accept things, never realizing that sometimes he has the right to change things.

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  14. Maybe if the guest and William now know the rules of a sleepover at your house, he could be allowed to try again? What he did is rude, but pretty common today. Olivia (frequent, appreciative reader)

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    1. I did not address the issue w/ William's friend. I believe that that could have turned into something that angered the parents. If the rules are not in place at their house, it could be perceived as a criticism. The parents would complain about our house and us in front of their son. That could overlap to the school setting and problems between the boys. Middle school kids can be pretty brutal. Allowing William to invite another kid over allows the conversation to remain at their level. As in, 'why did you invite 'x' o your house instead of me?' gives William a chance to say 'well, when you ignored me to play on your phone all morning, it seemed strange and not very nice. It kind of hurt my feelings.' That turns it into a conversation. I noticed that the boy has 'stimming' behaviors, and privately believe he is on the spectrum. William needs to learn that he shouldn't accept rudeness. His friend needs to understand he WAS rude. All this to say that I hope I do see him back. Probably avoid overnights for a while.

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    2. If he is on the spectrum, speaking as one who is, and has children and grandchildren who are...going on a sleepover was a huge step...and retreating to the safety of a phone was better than a meltdown! Both boys are making good steps

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    3. I know that this was certainly something that rarely happens for the boy. He has a younger sibling that is invited out regularly. I do believe that if a child does have behavioral issues, that really ought to be discussed with the hosts to include how it is handled in the home. I understand, better than most, 'retreating' behaviors. It was a strange thing to see two boys sitting in a room, with one boy on his phone talking to someone else. William is learning too. I can't explain in a public forum, but he needs to know that it is okay to advocate for himself. I hope that I do see the boy again. He plays at the playground around the corner, I expect we will run into each other and at this stage, I believe that probably short, planned activity times are best.

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  15. I think William's friend was just waking up in his slow usual way. Too bad the kid's dad used "queer." Even if he meant it as in "unusual", the dad should be aware that queer these days means gay. My ex-husband and I alternated holidays with our son. Either for my kid's birthday on the 27th and/or New Year's Eve, we had a slumber party for the elementary school boys. The kids loved it and the parents got a free overnight sitter for New Year's. One guest couldn't stay awake and went to sleep before midnight, even with the kids banging my pots and pans. They got a bit rowdy tossing a stuffed Sonic the Hedgehog inside, so I put the Sonic in time-out. Earned me the Forever Cool Mom award that was talked about beyond high school.
    You did a beautiful Grandma job with the scheduled activities. Roller skating is a big deal at that age. Might want to suggest they not bark at the girls though. Have more and invite more than one kid the next time! Constantly looking at a video game while waking may not be so rude these days. I was old-fashioned in not permitting any hats or caps in the house! Linda in Kansas

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  16. It wasn't like that. There were other examples. We will stick to one at a time. William has some things to learn as well. As he becomes more confident in socializing, we can try more. He has his 12th birthday party next month. His mother has it organized to be held at the roller rink. Tim laughed himself silly at the thought William was barking at girls. He said, "It's not going to be long before that changes.

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  17. You are very brave Debby and William is very lucky to have someone like you to guide and talk to him. I was brought up to deal with anything on my own.

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    1. Brave is a funny word. I don't know how much courage is involved, but there is a lot of determination.

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  18. It's tough raising kids. I think you've done well to communicate your expectations. It doesn't matter the rules, each family has their own. Our grandkids understand the difference between our home and their house rules! ("What happens at Gramma's stays at Gramma's!")

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    1. It is a tough transition. We tell William that it won't be all peaches and cream. Sometimes we will make him mad, and sometimes he will make us mad. But the important thing is to accept that these things will happen, and figure out how to talk through them. WIlliam is exceedingly kind. Probably one of the most kind hearted kids I have ever met. He is tolerant of differences, and kids with problems tend to gravitate his way. That's a great thing. But he needs to learn how to express his own needs, how to have reasonable expectations of the world around him, to understand that sometimes if things are just wrong, he needs to speak up on behalf of him self.

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  19. Due to heightened anxiety, it is very rare for sleepovers to occur here (less than the fingers on one hand) or indeed away. She can't even deal with overnights at camp. When we do have friends over (we don't call them playdates any more - its to "hang out") we are the obnoxious parents who insist that at least a portion of it involved activities together that DON'T involve computers or devices. Its a struggle.

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    1. You know, it never occurred to me that I might not have needed to even broach that issue with William.

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  20. I wonder what William was thinking when he was so quiet…

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    1. I am very sure that he was taken aback. The plan was to return the young man after breakfast. I understood immediately that it made him uncomfortable. I have embarrassed my own kids often enough to know that it happens.

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