Four Girls and a Guy

Tomorrow’s a PD day for some area schools, so instead of spending the day prepping for their January exams or finishing off projects and homework, those darned kids have been plotting all week for a day of fun and frivolity.

Monday I was informed asked if it would be okay if 5 people came over Thursday night for a little party and sleepover. Who are these people, I enquire, because I like to make her work for it.

She lists off: Martha, Joan, Bernice, Hazel, Dora and Fred,[1] really quickly in one mumbley breath while at the same time squeezing in a plea to have the TV and DVD in her room for the night.

She’s clever, but I have personal experience of teenagehood and good listening skills on my side. “Whoa,” I say…”Fred”?

Now, Fred is a fine young man who spends all his time with the girls when he’s not dancing[2]. They shop together, eat lunch together, go to the movies together, and, according to the kid, Fred has been to girl sleepovers in the past.

Is this boy/girl sleepover thing something all kids do these days? Because it’s been going on for quite some time among my daughter’s circle both here and back in Halifax. My nephews, who are also teenagers, go to boy/girl sleepovers all the time. I think it’s odd and not quite right. Not that I think they’ll get up to anything – they have plenty of other opportunity for that anyway.

So I told her I didn’t think it would be a good idea. As a single parent I wouldn’t feel comfortable with some teenaged boy and a bunch of girls in the house. Also,  I’m not entirely sure what the other kids are telling their parents and I don’t want to be responsible for any subsequent hell-paying. And, on general principle I just don’t think it’s a good habit to start.

Cue: The Whining.

“NO FAIR! Now Fred probably won’t come at all!!! He won’t want to be bussing home in the middle of the night! Thanks a LOT! You ruin EVERYTHING!”

Three long, endless, nerve-grating days of whining, cajoling, pleading and harumphing.

 “I’ll look like a DORK. Everyone else can have their ALL their friends for sleepovers. Fred will feel left out!!!! That’s MEAN!!!! You don’t trust us. Dora’s a lesbian, how come she gets to sleepover and Fred doesn’t? What’s the difference? WHYYYYyyyyyyyYYYYYyyyyyyyYYY???”

I almost cracked at one point and gave in. She was starting to making a bit of sense and also I could feel the blood vessels popping in my head.  I don’t like it when that happens.

So, I asked around —  people with kids and people without kids. They all agreed with me. Fred’s welcome to come for the evening, but then he goes home at bedtime.

The final decree went down last night.

FINE! She yells, and stomps off, followed by an evening of sulking. And blessed, blessed silence.

Just before bed, as she’s brushing her teeth, she casually says,

“I kind of hope Fred doesn’t come at all. It’s so much more fun with just the girls.”

[1] Not their real names.

[2] My daughter goes to an arts high school where they audition for entry into one of the 5 arts streams offered.


32 responses to “Four Girls and a Guy

  1. We’ve been all through this before.
    It’s your job to ruin her life, embarrass her, be dorky and old fashioned.
    It’s her job to make your head explode or at least bleed from the ears.
    Seems like everything is going according to plan.

  2. Interesting. What about the lesbian? If Fred were gay, could he stay? What is it about him staying over I wonder? Is it cultural more than sexual? I am glad I do not have these problems. 🙂

  3. As I was reading this, I was thinking pretty much along the same lines as Bandobras. I was aslo thinking along the same lines as Julia – I can multitask that way.

    AND I was thinking, damn I’m glad I don’t have kids.

  4. I don’t think Fred should stay over, but only because it’s not a good idea to cave in to whiny demanding teenagers who accuse you of being mean and unfair in an attempt to manipulate you. I’d totally consider it if she had made her case in a polite and reasonable way.

  5. Bandobras – As long as there’s a plan

    Julia – I suspect that Fred probably is gay, so it’s not a sexuality thing – I think it’s cultural and a slippery slope. I think things are confusing enough for teenagers and that it’s important to maintain some boundaries — they may be arbitrary, but it gives them a sense of structure, safety and a secure framework within which they can explore their world for now.

    Jazz – Multi-tasking is a good skill to have. See my response to Julia.

    Mike – Thanks. As I said to Julia, sometimes you just have to make a rule without getting too bogged down in all the connotations.

    Zoom – She did intersperse some reasonable arguments among the whining which is why I almost caved, but as I said to Julia sometimes you just have to draw a line somewhere just because you’re a parent and that’s your job.

    Alison – I’m just flying by the seat of my pants here like every parent before me. And that’s what you’ll have to do, too. It’s good to have a network of level-headed adults to bounce things off of once in a while, though.

  6. Sorry, I gotta disagree with the whole lot of you.
    XUP, you could allow Fred, but he sleeps on the couch, not in the bedroom with the girls.
    Plus, from the description of him that you provide, he might still be in the closet, but Fred sure sounds gay.

    My 21-year-old niece has a male friend who has always been one of the girls. He has been to otherwise-all-girl sleepovers, and is said to love to cuddle, but that`s all. He’s even gone on at least two Caribbean trips with three of the girls, and they all share the same room with only two double beds.

    He was Michelle’s prom date, because she was boyfriendless at that point.

    I’ve seen this kid in different situations with Michelle’s friends, who often congregate at my sister’s house. I’ve seen him try to be one of the guys, but he just looks uncomfortable and out of place. The other guys also try to include him, but the dynamic and chemistry just aren’t there.

    My niece and I have a very frank relationship. We often discussed whether Buddy is gay. For the longest time, she was in denial as much as he was, which isn’t surprising, because they’re good friends. At one point, she even expressed how frustrated she was that they were only friends. She would have loved their relationship to move beyond that. They are both in fourth-year university now — she at U of Ottawa, he at (irony here) Queen’s. At Thanksgiving, she told me that Buddy had finally come out, and how happy she is for him. She finally agreed with me that the poor kid had probably been very confused and in emotional turmoil leading up to that moment, and it must feel like a huge load off of his shoulders.

    I’ve seen this in other people, particularly one young gay guy I work with. They’ve been unfairly programmed to think that homosexuality makes them less as people. When they finally realize that’s a load of crap, they’re much happier.

    Okay, I`ve taken a long route to showing my support for your daughter and Fred. Besides, you know you can trust both of them…

  7. Bob – First, you’re talking about 21-year-olds and I’m talking about 14 & 15 year olds – HUGE difference. Secondly, as I said to Julia, it’s not about sexuality – I’m sure everybody is very trustworthy, etc., etc. It’s about setting some limits for your children. They’re not old enough to conduct their own lives entirely or use their own judgment on everything. They still need some guidance and boundaries from parents, I think. Sometimes there isn’t even a “logical” reason for saying no — sometimes it just doesn’t feel like the right thing. It doesn’t happen often that she asks for something that I have to say no to, and I agonize over it, but I do say no when I feel I have to. And surprisingly, she is often happier because of it. As you can see from her final statement, she wasn’t entirely comfortable with the idea herself, but felt she had to try because it was something “cool”. When she has a male friend – boyfriend or not, with whom she’s developed a good and long-term relationship and there’s a sensible reason why he should sleep over (in the spare room or even in her room, when she’s much older), then okay. BUT these are a bunch of minor kids for whom I am legally and ethically responsible while they’re under my roof. They’ve known each other for maybe 3 months some of them – a bit more for others. So, my decision WAS in support of my daughter. It may look like I’ve thwarted her opportunity for good clean fun, but it was me being a parent. My role changes every day as she grows and it’s gotten more and more hands-off, but once in a while I feel there’s a need for some hands-on.

  8. I’m the father of D, a boy like Fred. Most of his friends growing up were girls and his best friend was a girl. There were occasions such as birthday parties when D wanted to have sleepovers or wanted to attend them. We always let him but that was because these kids all grew up together. We knew our kids and we saw them interact and we trusted them.

  9. Trust schmust. They are teens and they are experimenting with sex. They are the first generation ever to do this.
    They will push the boundary as far as they can and any parent worthy of the name sets a limit from time to time.
    Both parents and children are better off for it.
    Well done XUP.
    Now go and see about that incipient aneurysm, you’ll need that blood vessel another day.

  10. I concur with everything you say, XUP, and applaud you for being able to say no when it just seems right. You also have all the background, such as they haven’t been friends that long, etc. You know your child and her friends better. You sound like a great parent.

    However, I just want to point out that Michelle and her buddy have been friends since the start of high school, which at their Catholic school was Grade 7. But a different situation than yours, in that it is YOUR kid, and Michelle isn’t even my kid, just my niece.

    Little Bro Dano never presented such scenarios to his Mom or to bounce off of me (Mama Theresa would ask my opinion occasionally; Dano did frequently). He did, however, have a sleepover once with two of his buddies who happened to be cousins. He found it strange that they had no problem climbing into the same bunk to sleep, until I pointed out that they were cousins, their parents were close, and Gerry and Remi had probably been sleeping together since they were babies in cribs. They were about 15 at the time.

  11. Ahhh, teenagers. The juggling a teen, a toddler, and babies is always sending me to Blow-a-Gasketville. But, I have to say the teen is giving me the greatest headache. They do always want to push and test those boundaries. My kid refers to me as the Puppetmaster as he thinks I’m always controlling him. Whatever. ::rolling my eyes::

    I’ll continue to work those strings as long as I can.

    I think you made the right decision.

  12. It’s hard to make a decision one way or the other without knowing the kids…

    Still the whining probably would have led me to cancel the whole thing.

  13. Surely Fred will understand…and if he is upset then that’s your daughter has got the best thing a teenage girl can have, a gaybestfriend. I’m so jealous- it took me YEARS to gt one of those!

  14. I’m so happy my cat doesn’t like sleepovers because I sure couldn’t deal with this drama lol

    FWIW, I think you made the right decision 🙂

  15. Skylark – The situation might have been different if these were kids who’d grown up together; but they’re not. And I trust my daughter to make the good decisions in most cases — I think sometimes though they can get into situations where they the good decision isn’t clear to them or they get swept up in the moment and/or by their peers. They don’t have the experience or wisdom to always make a good decision and then cope with the consequences. Many adults don’t either — but at least while I still have some sort of ability to set boundaries for her I’ll do what I can. Not that I even think anything horrible would have happened — just drawing a line in the sand… for this particular situation.

    Bandobras – And there is that. Some of the guys at work said there’s no way girls and boys at that age can share a bed without some undertones or overtones of sex. Why make them vulnerable to that temptation.

    Bob – Yes, it would be a different situation if they’d grown up together like siblings and I knew the parents well and everyone knows exactly what everyone is up to.

    OTC – I think they’re secretly happy that we’re giving them boundaries to poke at. Imagine how scary life would be at 13, 14, 15 if you were left to make all your own decisions and left to your own devices about everything in your life? I know I was glad to have a curfew to stretch as a teenager. Otherwise I would never have had an excuse to say NO, I gotta be home by 12.

    Guillermo – I love it when that happens.

    Nat – I’m not sure teenagers have any other voice beside whining and totally disgusted when talking to their parents. Okay, every once in a while she’ll get cuddly and call me mummy and say “thank you” or “I love you” or “will you tuck me in tonight”

    MissyM – You read the part about her going to an arts high school, right? She has gay friends out the wazoo.

    Violetsky – It IS hilarious sometimes and hard not to laugh while you’re having a stroke. And that last line was priceless.

    UA – Thanks. My cat provides quite a bit of drama too at times. Of course, he’s a teenager as well at the moment — only we had his hormones cut off, so it’s not as bad.

  16. You have denied “fred’s” chance to join the dark side….. you are a bad bad parent.
    Dude could have had the gay screwed right out of him BUT NOOOOOOOOO!

    Smart call girl.Really.I’m serious.

  17. ok.. i am sorry but 1.. there will be NO boy girl sleepovers in my childs high school days. period. and 2.. no high schooler knows she is a lesbian. these kids all think they are gay like its a fad and its so bloody annoying.

    that is what i have to say about that.

  18. Was totally on your side! Boy/girl…weird! But then she brought up the lesbian card! She does have a point! After that I don’t know what I would do!! I’m glad mine is still 4!

  19. Since no one else has mentioned it, I feel I must: Brilliant use of the caps/non caps succession of Y’s! Verbal whining made visual!

    I don’t have any kids, but I was one once and my parents would have nevvvvver let Fred stay the night. And I think her parting, tooth-brushing comment says it all: In the end, good kids love their parents for loving them enough to set the boundaries.

  20. CP – Thanks. It’s all on-the-job-training, isn’t it? No matter how many “experts” blather on about how to parent

    Bob – I haven’t heard from Kitty in a while.

    Jobthingy – I think what some of these girls who identify as lesbian are saying is that they’re not interested in getting intimate with boys right now and it’s easier, and as you say “cooler” to be lesbian than to be virginal. On the other hand, I’m pretty sure at least some of them are for real. I don’t think there’s an age limit on when you first realize you’re not like most of the other girls, is there?

    Helen – Like I said a few times above, it’s not really about that I think they’re going to be going at it in the night. It just didn’t feel right for a number of specific and non-specific reasons and pretty much boiled down to “because I said so”. Sometimes they need that line in the sand

    Cedar – Ya, that would go over well at school on Monday, “I went over to little xup’s house on Friday and gave her mother a pedicure”

    Lesley – Yes, thank you for noticing the whining Ys and also for noticing her final statement. No one else seems to have read that far. It really closes the debate on the subject, doesn’t it?

  21. Having only graduated from high school last June, I’ve been in your daughter’s shoes many times over the years. I’ve been frustrated by this vary situation many times, particularly when I was in the 14 – 15 age bracket. From her perspective, your decision is totally irrational: they’re not going to engage in wild orgies or other types of nefarious activities, so what’s the big deal? Isn’t that the problem? It’s the 21st Century, and now boys and girls are equal, right? Doesn’t this extend to Sex and the City/horror movie marathons?

    Of course, when I was fourteen, my friends and I wanted to have a giant end-of-Grade-Nine celebratory sleep over (complete with Sex and the City AND horror movies, of course). In those days, none of us were remotely interested in drinking or weed, and our times together were family-appropriate. But still, the host’s parents were exactly like you – extremely wary and unsure of what to do in the situation. It ended up being that the two boys slept upstairs, while the rest of us slept in the living room.

    In my experience, the troubles with boy/girl sleepovers only ever comes up when it’s something casual, like a Friday night filled with pop corn and movies. Whenever I had a big party, my single, working mother was more than happy to allow my male friends to spend the night, which, in comparison to the casual sleepover, seems far more risky. I believe it was an effort on her part to keep the kids off the streets at 3am, and it’s something I’ve always been thankful for. Many of my guy friends choose to go home, but the ones that didn’t diligently helped me clean up in the morning and were gone by 11am.

    This has been a really long comment. I suppose my point is this: it might be a big deal for you, but for us, boy/girl sleepovers are totally natural and fine – and definitely not a big deal. I can understand why you’d want to draw the line and have boundaries (something that I’m glad my parents always gave me) but I also don’t understand why so many adults seem to view casual boy/girl sleepovers in such a negative light. It would be different if you didn’t trust or respect your kids, or they were acting up, or something. But in my experience, kids can be far more adult and grown up than adults give them credit for. The sleepover is no biggie, and refusing to allow Frank to sleep over will just exaggerate the differences he probably already feels between himself and his female friends.