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?