Sleep over, perchance to dream (or cry)


It is said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If this is so, then someone call the men in white coats because I am definitely insane.

We have been on summer vacation for approximately a week now. Nine days, 13 hours and 31.6 minutes, actually, but who’s counting?

We have already gobbled up untold pounds of pool snacks, broken one inflatable raft, nearly taken the tip off one not-so-big toe running around barefoot (no matter how many times Mommy told us not to!), and slathered (or spilled) gallons of sunscreen.

Now, despite the pasture, creek, climbing trees, barn, bicycles, trampoline, play set, swimming pool and an entire third floor turned into a playroom, my children are, as you might imagine, terrifically bored.

What can they possibly do but bring in reinforcements to join them in their boredom? Namely, a group of sleepover friends.


Group sleepovers are one of those things you either get, or you don’t. There is no middle ground.

By “get” I mean you, as a child, get them if your parents are perhaps insane (see above) or have very short memories and limited attention spans. Much like gnats.

If your parents are the smart type with long memories and all their synapses firing in working order, you probably had a group sleepover once. Generally, this once-in-a-lifetime window of opportunity in your parent’s sanity will take place around a birthday. Said parents will think it a fine idea to have a bevy of children spend the night.


Generally, this one sleepover will be governed by the International Rules of Small Group Sleepovers in that no one will really sleep, alliances will be made (and unmade numerous times throughout the party) and tempers will fray to the breaking point.

International Rules further govern that it’s really not a successful sleepover until someone either cries uncontrollably for no apparent reason or goes home in the middle of the night with their pajama-clad parents mumbling apologies.

The smart parents then vow never ever again to let such a thing happen on their watch.

This is why I had exactly one “group sleepover” in the eighth grade. My mother is no fool. I apparently did not get that savvy sense of self-preservation from her.

We have had someone (sometimes multiple “someones”) sleeping over nearly every single night this week. You may think this is because I’m a super-fun mom. You would be wrong. This is because I am a stupid, stupid woman and I forget every darned time and say yes to this all over again.

Only when it is far too late — both figuratively and literally — to change my mind does it all come rushing back.

The children are lovely, they really are. It’s just that International Rules of Mob Mentality apply here. Thus, some small guest will inevitably find our food or facilities lacking (I never try to feed a kid liver and onions but a child who will only eat “round food” is a bit of a pill).

Someone will try to terrorize Mrs. Seabolt by announcing they “might” be allergic to some food they have just ingested.

Finally, a guest will have a meltdown over something or other. Usually a game that is not going their way, that someone has looked at them wrong, or perhaps that the very dust motes in the air were not to their liking.

I know, I know in my heart of hearts that at 8, 9 and 10 years old, this is actually a sign that an otherwise sweet child has had enough and needs to go home, but at what point will I finally learn to cut it short before we get to this point?

(Note to all my friends reading this with a sinking heart. I don’t mean YOUR children. YOUR children are lovely and could do no wrong. Seriously. This is all about those OTHER kids. You know the types.)

Still, the truth is, I would — and will — do it all again in a heartbeat. We loving having kids around, really we do. We didn’t fashion this childhood wonderland so I could wave my fists and yell at small children to stay off my lawn.

No, Mr. Wonderful and I both agree that it is truly a blessing to have the children around. We really like knowing where our kids — and their friends — are. I just wish we didn’t know by the whining.

Until then, as the old song goes, “They’re coming to take me away, ha ha!” and I’m fine with that as long as they take me to a nice, soft bed.


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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.



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