Mom Said We Can Have A Sleepover!

Mom Said We Can Have A Sleepover!

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In the annals of parenthood, there are mistakes and then there doozies! A small mistake might be forgetting to check your daughter’s backpack for the remains of the snack you gave her last week and then smelling the “science experiment” growing in the bottom of her bag.

A DOOZIE, on the other hand, might be allowing your 9 year-old to have a mid-week sleepover with her best friend on a school night.  Yup, in hindsight, that was a mistake.

“Mom said “We can have a sleepover!”

Should have taken longer to decide. Seriously.

Should have taken longer to decide. Seriously.

Lulu and her best friend, Daisy, have been begging me for weeks for a sleepover.  They’ve assured me they would behave and do their homework.  They would go to bed at a decent hour.  They would not make a mess in the house.  They would even clean up.

Yesterday was an early release day and I agreed to let the girls play at my house after school and then have the sleep over.  As soon as they arrived, true to their promise, the girls grabbed their homework folders and started what I assumed was ALL of their homework.  Two minutes later (yes, I timed it) the doorbell rang. Their friend, Ryan, a classmate, wanted to know if the girls could play.  I should have said “No.”  I should have responded: “The girls need to finish their homework and I NEED TO CHECK IT before they can play.”  But I didn’t.  I just let her in like a dummy. And the homework, of course, was quickly forgotten as Daisy, Ryan and Lulu took off for the park.  It wasn’t until they were out of sight that I remembered Lulu had Hebrew school.  What, exactly, was Daisy going to do while my daughter was at school?

You can imagine Lulu’s shock when I told her, at 4 o’clock, that she needed to wrap up their game and get ready for Hebrew School. At first Lulu’s response was one of indignation: “What?  You mean you are actually going to make me go to Hebrew School when I have a friend over?  That is so uncool Mom!”  Then she quickly hatched a plan and asked “Can Daisy come to Hebrew School with me?”

“Yes, you are going.” and “Uh, no she can’t.”

As if by magic, Lulu turned on the waterworks and screamed that I was the “WORST mother EVER!” Daisy was going to be SO bored hanging out with me!  What was she going to do for all that time? (hint: It’s a little show called H2O and it’s on Teen Nick.)

As we drove the mile plus to our synagogue, Lulu begged me to roll down the window so she could jump out.  “Even death,” she explained, “would be better than spending even one minute in Hebrew School!”  (She’s quite the drama queen when the moment lends itself, don’t you think?) Daisy did try to assure Lulu that it would be alright but Lulu wasn’t going to backdown and risk ruining a moment to express her great anguish and suffering. I practiced my deep breathing exercises, tried not to respond to the histrionics in the backseat of my car and imagined that I was on an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with a margarita in hand.

bora bora island

Internally, I scream “Serenity Now!” as I channel my desert island, Bora Bora

At precisely 5:30 p.m. we picked up Lulu.  Under her breath, and perhaps to ensure that I wouldn’t change my mind and send Daisy home, Lulu quickly apologized for her Oscar worthy performance. Once I accepted, she turned away from me and acted as if nothing had happened. (Typical pre-teen.)

The night progressed smoothly.  No homework was attempted but we did enjoy the Easy Bake Oven version of red velvet cake.  By 10:00 p.m. the girls were ready for bed and collapsed on the couch in our basement.  (They were far enough away that Adam and I wouldn’t be disturbed Perhaps having a sleepover mid-week wasn’t such a bad idea? WRONG!

BUT…

What I didn’t know (and no one told me) was that Daisy had NOT finished her homework nor completed her assigned reading.  And this was an issue. Unlike Lulu, who could care less whether she finishes her homework or not, this child REALLY DOES CARE about getting her work done. Not doing her homework was keeping Daisy up (that, and, as I later learned, Lulu throwing Starbursts at her face.)  At 11:00 p.m. just as I was falling sleep, Daisy appeared at my bedside, stated that her stomach hurt and that she had not finished her homework.  In hindsight, this may have been a ploy to get away from the Starburst launching Lulu who I assumed (correctly) had eventually stopped hurling candy at her friend and had fallen asleep.  Nevertheless, I really was not sure what to do.  This NEVER happens with Lulu.  First of all, this kid was not going to do her homework in the middle of the night because I was not going to stay up with her! I debated calling her father to pick her up.  But, I didn’t want my husband to “told me so” in the morning by reminding me that it was a really bad idea to allow Lulu to have a sleepover.

So I sent Daisy to Lulu’s room, grabbed some books off of the bookshelf (Walter The Farting Dog, anyone?) for her and told her to read until she fell asleep. But that was not the end of Daisy’s nocturnal visits.  At 5:30 a.m. she woke me again to tell me that her stomach hurt. Is it bad to admit that I wanted to respond: “Yeah, well my head hurts from not getting enough sleep kid!  What do you want me to do about it?”  Note to Daisy’s parents if you are reading thisI DID NOT SAY THAT! I sent Daisy back to Lulu’s room and instructed her to get in bed and read “until I come to get you!”

sleepover

At 7:00 am  Adam awoke me by asking for an apology “Yes, I am sorry.  You were right.  Having a sleepover mid-week was a HUGE mistake.”  I was EXHAUSTED!  Walking downstairs, I noticed that my once clean kitchen was now filled with Easy Bake baking materials, flour and (I assume) cake frosting was on the floor.   The dog was slowly licking the neon pink strawberry frosting off of the cabinetry.  There were dishes in the sink, homework scattered around my table and no semblance of order.

I got the sleepy girls out of bed. I discovered Lulu in the guest bedroom.  They refused to get dressed (despite my pleading and threats) until they had finished their conversation about 4th grade social politics. Once  they finally dressed in their seasonally inappropriate clothes (short sleeves when it’s 10 degrees outside?) and went upstairs to inhale breakfast, neither one of them thought to get their materials organized and ready for school.  So at 8:25, when I announced that lunches and snacks, homework and folders all needed to go into the backpacks, Daisy told me that she STILL had not finished her reading and had not finished her homework.  Her eyes filled up with tears when she realized that she would miss recess so she could finish her assignments until  I pointed out the upside of the situation: since she lost a mitten somewhere in my house, she would miss outdoor recess because she had to do her homework.  Homework definitely was a better alternative to frostbite.  At least she would have a reasonable excuse to not have to go out in the cold.

By 8:40 (a mere 5 minutes before the 2nd bell rang and the girls would be officially late for school) Lulu and Daisy were still jumping around the house trying to find their shoes, socks, jackets, boots, hats etc. Despite the fact that I had hung everything on hooks in the front closet the night before, Daisy insisted that she could not find her book bag: the bag in which she carried all of her library and pleasure reading.  It was in her viola case, of all places. Once I started yelling that they were now officially late for school and I would NEVER allow another child to sleep in my home on a week night, everything was magically found, put away, the girls bundled up and in the car screaming that “We are going to be late!  Gun it!” It was at that moment that Daisy announced, “You know, Renee, I am not the most organized person?  My dad has to really help me in the morning.”  No kidding.

It’s been two hours since I dropped the girls off at school.  The dishwasher, full of Betty Crocker Easy Bake Oven cooking instruments, is running and I am falling asleep at my desk. I am trying to remember who’s idea was this?  I feel like I was the one who had the sleepover, not Lulu.

Was the sleepover a “rookie’s” mistake or the act of an overly optimistic mother trying to make her daughter happy?  After almost 10 years of parenting, I don’t think that I can be referred to as a rookie anymore.  So, I guess I’ll have to go with the optimistic (read: naïve) mother defense.  So I am guilty of making a REALLY bad and exhausting decision.  Even worse, my husband was right: Having a sleepover mid-week was a REALLY bad idea.

I HATE it when he’s right.  I really do.

 

All Hail The Mighty E-Book

Ramona Quimby, Age 8

At 9:15 p.m., along with “Mommy, I just threw up in your bed” one of the last things a mother wants to hear from her child is “Mommy, I forgot to do my homework and it’s due tomorrow!” Despite reminding her to finish the assigned reading this week, my daughter “forgot” to do it because, to be quite honest, she hates the reading assignment: Ramona Quimby, Age 8.

Most parents have been in a similar situation. Children frequently and conveniently “forget” to do their homework particularly when it is a subject that they despise, like Ramona. I can remember finishing an assignment or two at the breakfast table before school started while my mother berated me for procrastinating. So, despite the fact that she should have already been sleeping, I told my 8 year-old daughter that she had a choice: either stay up tonight and finish the assigned chapter or I would get her up early the next day. Either way, that kid was going to show up for class with the dreaded reading done.

And that’s when she hit me with the “kicker”: “But Mom, I can’t find the book!” Of course she couldn’t; she HATED the book and the assignment. Losing the book was all part of the plan, right?

While she got ready for bed, I looked frantically all over the house and in my car for her missing book. Guess what? I couldn’t find it because, my daughter sheepishly later acknowledged, that she may have left it at school. Another 15 minutes wasted.

Now I faced a real dilemma: in the Chronicles of Mommyhood (as I like to call it) this was an opportunity to teach my 8 year-old a lesson about responsibility. Despite the fact that she didn’t want to do the assignment, it was still due. We all have things that we dread doing in life. LESSON, LESSON, LESSON….bah blah, bah blah, bah blah.

If this was the early 80’s, for instance, my mother would have yelled at me for being so irresponsible and admonished that I deserved whatever punishment the teacher felt was appropriate for my misdemeanor. With that train of thought, if I was my mother, I would feed my daughter to the lions (aka her teacher.) But if this was the 80’s there would also be no such thing as a Kindle, iPad or other e-reading device.

I have a Kindle and with a flick of my magic wand (the internet, a computer and amazon.com) I could make this problem go away for my young child. As I stood at the foot of K’s bed, I thought about the swimming analogy: do I do nothing which means letting her sink and hope that she figures out how to swim (i.e. learns a lesson) or do I hold her up because I know that there is a tool available to me now that wasn’t available when I was a child?

What would you have done if you were in my place?

I suggested to K that I download the book on my e-reader and no one would be the wiser. But I also took advantage of the moment to remark that she was “Darn lucky that your mother is SO smart and willing to help you out of a jam!”

My reasons for helping K were not totally altruistic. It’s important that I reveal that there was another reason for my willingness to commit a “Mommy Crime” and possibly rob my daughter of her future integrity; I needed to observe a Bat Mitzvah on Saturday at our synagogue and I knew that if I helped K that she would be obligated to come with me. I gave her the choice: “I’ll download the book and help you out but then you have to come with me on Saturday. Or if I don’t download the book and you deal with your teacher, you’ll get to chill at Grandma’s Saturday morning.”

Guess what? She asked me to download the book. She read three pages tonight and promptly fell asleep. So much for helping her out. Note: She still has to go to the Bat Mitzvah. Before I downloaded the book, I made her “pinky swear.”

A promise is a promise after all, right? And I have integrity after all.