Ahhh, the sleepover.
A quintessential part of the American childhood.
Just the word “sleepover” probably stirs up fond memories of late-night giggling, poorly painted toe-nails and itchy sleeping bags.
For me, it dredges up the crying jags and calls to come home in the middle of the night.
The panicky realization that I was actually expected to sleep at some point.
The horror of having to pretend to LIKE pizza and ignoring the aching pains that followed due to lactose intolerance.
My top 3 worst sleepover experiences, in no particular order:
SLEEPING WITH THE ENEMY
Maybe it was the title of the movie that had the parents confused.
Sleeping, like a “sleepover.”
Maybe I had led a sheltered life, never having seen a movie that was rated R by the tender age of 8.
But, I could not hide my shock and dismay as we huddled onto our friend’s fluffy, pink twin bed and watched Julia Roberts being raped by Patrick Bergin.
The first sex scene I had ever seen and it was a portrait of a violently abusive marriage.
At this age, the mere mention of sex made my throat swell-up with anxiety.
As I’ve mentioned, I grew up in a fundamentalist Christian family and just thinking about sex was likely to earn you a ticket straight to the fiery pits of hell. (At least in my prepubescent mind.)
At first, I tried to nonchalantly cover my eyes.
That wasn’t going to work.
There was audio.
Can’t cover your eyes and ears simultaneously.
So, I did what any other slightly hypochondriacal youngster would do.
I pretended to feel sick, rushed out of the room and spent a good portion of the evening engaging in calming banter with my friend’s mother. (No mention was made of their incredibly poor choice of films for the sleepover.)
(By the way, I adore that movie now. I guess it’s kind of like, ‘I can watch it now without wanting to die or praying for forgiveness! I win!’)
THE MANSION UTI
My father was a math teacher at a prep school for rich kids.
We didn’t have much money (understatement) and frequently found ourselves with incredibly wealthy friends.
One of those kids lived in a mansion with an olympic-size swimming pool, complete with high diving board and an ice cream parlor.
They were having a birthday party for her brother and I swear to God, they had the longest, most phenomenal Slip ‘N Slide I had ever seen. It ended in a pool that was way bigger than the above ground one we had in our backyard.
Needless to say, I was already intimidated by the home, the toys, the yard, the pool.
Just looking at my friend sitting with perfect posture while playing at her grand piano was enough to make me feel inferior for JUST BEING.
It was around midnight when I started to realize I was suffering from the world’s most wicked urinary tract infection. Dear God, the pain!
I wasn’t keen on being there, but I wanted to impress my rich pal, so I tried to suck it up, tough it out, biting into the provided pillow to try to keep from screaming.
I finally broke down and called my mom and whispered through tears that my private parts were en fuego.
I’m sure you’re already thinking you can guess how this sleepover went. But, wait!
It was a sleepover at MY house and I was NOT the one who puked.
It was my neighborhood friend.
She ran for the bathroom.
She only made it to the hallway.
It was projectile.
It was shocking.
It was the look on my father’s face while he was sopping it up that I will never forget for as long as I live.
He looked like Samuel L. Jackson in Pulp Fiction.
Or Samuel L. Jackson in Django Unchained.
Or Samuel L. Jackson in any movie for that matter.
These and also the glaring facts that some parents are also perverts, some guns are left unlocked and some alcohol is on the bottom shelf are the reasons why I will never (don’t hold me to it) let my kids sleepover.
And your (vomiting) kids can’t stay either.
Lately, I can be seen shuffling around like a homeless schizophrenic, mumbling to myself over and over, “It’s just a phase. It’s just a phase.”
For the past few weeks, my daughter has transformed into the kind of girl nobody wants to hang out with.
She has pretty much ruined every holiday event or special occasion.
There was Christmas where I watched in horror as she shredded open gift after gift barely pausing between to assess the present. When she finished she whined, “I want more presents to unwrap.”
I tried to convince myself it was just some kind of OCD obsession with the thrill of unwrapping.
She practically cried when I offered her Cinnamon Buns for breakfast, then downed two of them within minutes, sending her off on a sugary high, shrieking and bouncing around the house like a crackhead kangaroo.
She spent hours in separate “time outs.”
I asked her what her favorite gift from Santa was. (Santa, you know, the “guy” who bought all the presents, wrapped all the presents, decorated the tree and stealthily stuffed stockings when “he’d” rather have been sleeping.) Her response: “The kitty, I guess, but it was the wrong color and I didn’t get the doll carriage I wanted.”
This sent me off on a tear-filled, mimosa-fueled afternoon followed by a splitting headache and sweaty nap.
On New Year’s Eve, we used the Netflix fakeout countdown for the kids during which my daughter whined that she wanted to watch Batman instead.
Afterward, we partook in the Cuban traditions.
We were each eating our 12 grapes when Alma proceeded to drop 2 of them, 1 of which was never located. A slimy grape is currently curled up in our carpet maliciously awaiting a middle of the night barefoot run for a glass of water.
She refused to put pants and shoes on with her pajamas, despite the fact that it was super cold outside, because she wanted to “be Tinkerbell.”
We walked around the house with our suitcases in order to ensure a 2015 filled with travel. Of course, our neighbor walks out in a vest and tie on his way to celebrate New Year’s the way normal adults do. I can only imagine how ridiculous we looked traipsing through wet grass and dog shit with our luggage, wearing pajamas.
We get back to the front door and Alma starts fake-crying because she was under the false impression we would be walking around the whole neighborhood.
We go to dump our bucket of water out the front door to wash away all the crap that’s happened in 2014. Alma is throwing a fit because she wants to do it herself even though the Popcorn bowl is so heavy, she would end up on the sidewalk in the puddle.
Last night, I managed to sneak out of work early because we had short newscasts on New Year’s Day. On the drive home, I am cheerful despite writing about sons decapitating their mothers and boyfriends nearly strangling their girlfriends to death. There is no traffic, it’s not too hot and I am arriving home before the sun sets.
So, we decide to take the kids out for pizza. After the 30 minute drive, we discover the restaurant is closed. Alma commences whining about how all she will eat is pizza, so we end up at chain Italian restaurant that shall remain unnamed.
I always planned to be the kind of parent that would NEVER let their children play on computers at the dinner table… until I ended up the kind of parent with kids that jostle me perpetually, ask “why” repeatedly and don’t allow me to eat a single bite of food without arguing with me about something.
So, I let Alma play with her Leapad. Instead of enjoying herself quietly, she’s demanding that I watch what she’s doing, take part in what she’s doing and talking over the Comicon, Dungeons and Dragons playing waitress who is trying to take our order.
Halfway through our overpriced, undercooked pasta, the little boy in the booth behind me stands up and projectile vomits spaghetti all over the floor.
The C-team staff starts to mop it up and then leaves little wet spaghetti pieces on the floor right next to me and the stinking mop and bucket right behind my husband.
My main resolution this year was just to detox, not for the entire year, but long enough to avoid feeling pickled post holidays.
January 1st and I’m making a Moscow Mule so I can suffer through putting my daughter to bed.
We’re coloring together and she’s wide-eyed and crazed, intentionally coloring hard and outside the lines.
She stays up too late on her computer. I take it away and tell her to sleep.
When it’s finally time for me and the husband to go to bed, he turns off the hallway light and I heard Alma yell, “MOM! MOM! Turn on the light! I can’t see!!!”
She says it like we’ve offended her sensibilities by turning out HER light when SHE is trying to stay up until midnight the day AFTER New Year’s Eve.
I cry myself to sleep while browsing Facebook, looking at people wearing their fun New Year’s Eve hats, drinking champagne, their children grinning and still joyously and gratefully playing with their Christmas loot.
It’s just a phase. It’s just a phase. Until… it’s not.
We jump through hoops to ensure our children believe a chubby dude in a red suit squeezes his fat-ass down the chimneys of homes worldwide giving out presents, but only to “good” kids.
We convince them Fairies with a dentin fetish will steal their teeth in exchange for cash WHILE THEY SLEEP.
There’s also the giant rabbit who brings eggs, candy and dollar store tchotchkes to celebrate Spring. Nobody ever explains how the hell he gets inside and why he doesn’t also leave monster droppings behind.
Some of us also want to make sure our children have a handle on the whole “higher power” thing. God, meting out punishments on sinful kids and watching their every move like an invisible stalker.
Angels watch over them too, ghosts of dead people who provide nebulous support in times of need.
It’s a lot to ask.
Then, Halloween arrives and we have to tell them that all things scary are totally fake. Ghosts, witches, trolls, ghouls and goblins.
You have to explain that they will encounter copious amounts of blood, but it’s not real.
Our neighborhood will appear to be bat-infested, populated by hoarders who have allowed spiderwebs to overwhelm their porches.
Children will be required to solicit candy by threatening to assault or insult the strangers who answer the door. Yay!
It’s a fine balance, getting your children to believe in intangible phenomenon and then turn around and be able to recognize other horrors as imaginary.
Fortunately, I hit the jackpot with my daughter.
Alma believes in angels and Santa, but understands that monsters don’t exist. She adores The Nightmare Before Christmas and has started telling us that there are ghosts everywhere.
She’ll tap her foot on the car door and proclaim, “It’s a ghost! There’s a ghost in the car!”
Unfortunately, my son has not mastered the delicate balance between enjoyable fear and downright terror. He starts shouting, “Ghost in the car?” “No like ghost in the car!”
Alma enjoys walking into a dark room, grinning and sneaking saying, “spooky!”
Huxley notices the lights are out, says “scary!” and scrambles onto my lap looking over his shoulder.
I am notorious for accidentally terrifying my children.
I get amped up during severe storms and yell “thunder!” I made the mistake of explaining to the kids the real potential danger of being hit by a bolt of lightning.
I stressed the important of buckling up by warning them that they could be seriously injured if we get into a car accident.
(Hey, I work in news. Car crashes and lightning are a very real danger in Tampa!)
I went to play “dollhouse” with Alma recently and had to think fast for a motivation for my squirrel family arriving at her mouse family’s house.
Without considering the repercussions, my squirrel mom was pounding urgently on the door because the house had burned down.
Yeah, that was the storyline I chose for my daughter whose one fear is the smoke detector.
Thankfully, she was cool with it, explaining that “If your house is on fire, you wait until it stops and the steam stops and the water dries up and then you can live there… or just build a new house.”
For my daughter’s sake, I want to go as a creepy vintage doll for Halloween.
For my son’s sake, I won’t.
For my daughter’s sake, we started to watch Triplets of Belleville.
For my son’s sake, we turned it off before getting to the part where some raggedy-ass old bitches subsist on frogs.
I guess it’s enough that they hear the hushed sounds of blood-curdling screams from the movies I watch after I put them to bed.
It’s only a matter of time before they stumble bleary-eyed into the living room and encounter a serial killer clown and are scarred for life.
So, this guy walks into a bar…
Can you picture it? Me neither.
My husband and I were discussing adult actors on kid shows. How can they live with themselves as grownups when shooting wraps for the day?
I don’t see Mister Douche from Imagination Movers proudly donning that early 90’s Shaggy haircut and chunky soul patch while ordering any beer with an alcohol content over 5%.
He looks like more of an O’Doul’s type. Maybe throw in a teeny umbrella.
I’m guessing they have morality clauses in their contracts, but what would that entail for a 30-something on a kid show?
I mean, do you think Twist from Fresh Beat Band hits up the strip club on occasion?
He has crow’s feet for Christ’s sake!
I have a huge girl crush on Carly Ciarrocchi from the Sunny Side Up Show.
Her cutesy color blocking and funky sneakers don’t fool me. I bet she’s a blast to hang out with at house parties and can kill it at the club.
But…. can she? Does she?
Don’t get me started on The Wiggles.
“Sir, I didn’t recognize you without your rib-crushing, shiny spandex turtle neck.”
“You mean, you don’t actually prefer women’s underwear? I just… assumed… because… you know.”
There’s always this secret assumption that at least some of the older cast members on these shows could be undercover sex offenders.
Thanks Pee Wee. Mugshot complete with pervy Blue Blockers.
Even in death, the lovely Mister Rogers will never be able escape theories that he was actually some kind of evil-doer.
I still love you Mister Rogers. You, and Mr. Happy Trees.
Even when they find the bodies buried in Bob Ross’s backyard. I’ll still love him.
I struggle endlessly to discover new and awesome movies for my kids to watch.
Disney flicks are way too pricey to buy.
My daughter wants the Barbies and Ponies and my son likes the trains and cars, so they rarely agree.
The greatest challenge is finding something I will watch without constantly checking Facebook updates or playing solitaire on my phone.
Here are my top 5 current and contemporary kid flicks.
Say what you will about it, but there is something incredibly freeing about belting out ballads, especially with midget backup singers.
I love Anna’s quirkiness. She drools, looks like crap in the morning, has a severe chocolate addiction and falls for a stinky dork with a family of trolls.
2. Meet the Robinsons.
Plots centered on adoption tug at my heart strings. It gives us a glimpse of a super villain as an innocent child. The mom is a bad-ass who thwarts a brutal attack where meatballs are used as weapons.
It has a song by Rufus Wainwright that I ADORE.
This can’t be a kid flick. It just can’t. Chock full of grownup metaphors.
4. Hotel Transylvania.
I hate Adam Sandler, except for in this movie.
I dig monster humor.
And there’s this line. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXveWvxYz3A
5. Free Birds.
Owen Wilson. Amy Poehler. Woody Harrelson. George Takei. (I had you at Takei, didn’t I?)
My husband would add Fantastic Mr. Fox to this list, but a friendly reminder to fellow parents: Your kids repeat what they hear, so only watch it if you’re a-o-k with the kidlets saying, “What the cuss?” or “This is a total clustercuss!”
Parents of little ones, please add your suggestions and justifications. I am always searching for better alternatives to playing with the dollhouse.
Picture a koala bear whining perpetually. Or a turtle neck sweater that cries for no reason. Or the Incredible Hulk keeping a mom in a headlock while EXCLUSIVELY wearing skirts. This is my daughter. She is going through a phase (Dear God, let it be a phase) where she is beyond clingy.
She is single-handedly bringing back the choker necklace of the 90’s by BECOMING a choker.
She repeatedly gets down from the bench during dinner to give me a hug, despite being told repeatedly to withhold affection until after we eat.
She lies on top of me, kicking me over and over and over and then when I finally break down and yell at her she says, “I just want to give you a hug!” (Or kick the shit out of me)
She wants me to carry her, she wants to cook with me, she wants me to color WITH her. Inevitably when we color together, she gets bored and starts scribbling spastically all over whatever masterpiece I’ve created.
Sometimes I feel like instead of giving birth to a child, I actually have a parasitic twin attached to my body.
The other night I told her it was time to bed after we finished reading and she started to fake cry. I told her to read a book on her own and she went ape crap.
I got annoyed and told her to pull it together.
Then she said, “I can’t read a book on my own, BECAUSE I CAN’T READ THE WORDS!”
Now I’M the dick. It has to be incredibly frustrating to be just a few letter sounds away from being able to read by yourself.
That being said, I am starting to think it’s strange that my children have ZERO ability to entertain themselves. (even together)
As I have previously posted, I suck at pretend.
I harbor a secret desire to burn her dollhouse down.
I can only find so many ways to rearrange the six pieces of furniture.
I have on more than one occasion plunked my daughter down on the couch, put on a new movie and tried to sneak in a nap in the bedroom. (Door open. I am not a HORRIBLE parent.)
Within ten minutes I will hear the heavy breathing of a small being standing next to me, staring at me, waiting for me to open my eyes.
It’s like I have my own personal serial killer, who is determined to murder me with crappy kid movies.
She won’t even sing without me. If I stop singing Frozen songs because I am doing something totally unimportant like trying to help her little brother poop on the potty, she starts to whisper-sing, looking uncomfortable like she just forgot her lines in the school play.
I probably shouldn’t talk considering that my mother could’ve nicknamed me “the tumor” until I was in high school. But, seriously, was I this annoying?
I’ve started calling her an Australian Sheperd. “The Aussie has considerable energy and drive, and usually needs a job to do.”
That’s my kid.
If you don’t give her a task, she’ll throw a shit-fit and possibly even piss on the rug. (Maybe not, but her temper tantrums ARE escalating.) She is a lovely child. Brilliant, hilarious, spirited and driven.
Now, can someone please borrow her for a couple of hours so I can have a hot date with my husband?
If you can’t be stupid with your kids, you’re stupid.
Studies (that I made up in my head) show that singing, dancing and general tomfoolery with your kids makes them happy.
I used to be insecure about singing in front of my husband. I know I can sing. I did show choir in middle school, dabbled in musical theater and can kill it at karaoke.
But, I know I can’t hit the high notes and occasionally I murder a melody.
While my husband was recently out of town on business, I rediscovered the sheer joy of not giving a shit what anyone thinks about my voice.
So did my kids.
We scream-sing Itsy Bitsy Spider during double bath time. We butcher the lyrics to Let it Go from Frozen and break the sound barrier with Olaf’s In Summer.
We used to do “dance party” in the evening, playing various styles of music from Pandora. While that doesn’t keep the kids attention for very long and typically degenerates into sibling violence, it’s inspired both kids to shake it like a Polaroid picture.
My son has great rhythm like all Cuban men, so I’m told.
My daughter is spastic, but maybe she’s just into interpretive dance.
The other night, I randomly started spitting a hip hop beat and watched in delight as my daughter started to get down and she was ON BEAT. She might stink at ballet, but she’s going to blow minds with her contemporary.
My husband ridicules my “peacock” move and my “stank face” but it’s worth it to hear my kids laugh.
Even if my children don’t end up on American Idol or So You Think You Can Dance, (shows that will no doubt be long since forgotten by then) they will smile more, laugh more and feel more free.
I’m beginning to find that humor and the ability to laugh at yourself is a key component to parenting.
Call us weird, call us kooky but don’t ever call us joyless.