Sleepovers are slowly becoming a popular part of life.
A sleepover is an arrangement in which children spend a night or two at the home of a friend, neighbour or family acquaintance. For obvious reasons, most sleepovers are known to happen during weekends and school holidays.
Growing up, my friends and I looked forward to these sleepovers. In a typical sleepover, boys would spend half the night playing games or chatting about girls and movies. Girls would help with household chores, after which they would settle down for a little gossip while plaiting one another’s hair.
In most cases, sleepovers were so good that you ended up oversleeping at your friend’s home.
Generally, sleepovers were strictly between friends of the same gender. Of course, there were a few dubious arrangements, where a boy would slip into a girl’s room and the two would spend the whole night talking in whispers, after which he would crawl out at dawn before the rest of the family woke up. However, this is not the kind of sleepover I have in mind. I am looking at proper sleepovers, in which your entire host family would know of your presence, and you do not have to sneak out through the window or carry a bone to bribe the family dog into silence.
A few weeks ago, Jimmy announced that he would be attending his friend Mato’s birthday party, slated for today.
Mato and Jimmy come a long way, having been in the same high school. He is a disciplined, intelligent and sociable lad who is free from scandal, and his family is well-known in our neighbourhood.
In addition to the party, he had requested his parents’ permission for Jimmy to stay for the night, and they agreed. Thus, over dinner on Friday evening, Jimmy sought permission for this sleepover. Being a liberal parent, I promptly rubber-stamped the plan.
For Mama Jimmy, however, this sleepover business proved to be a hard sell.
She worried about how her son will be handled, the diet he will be exposed to, the movies he might watch or books he might read.
“I dislike the idea of my children sleeping away from home, or other children sleeping here,” she said. “It is wrong to burden other people with my children.
I wish children could just meet during the day and retire to their homes for the night.”
I explained that sleepovers expose children to new environments where they learn new things, which is an essential part of growth. As the saying goes, he who does not visit other people’s homes may live to think his mother cooks the best food around, only to realise that nothing could be further from the truth.
“Our children will eventually leave home, dear, so why not we let them explore the world?” I posed. “Let him stay the night and have fun.”
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Turning to Jimmy, I laid out a number of conditions. For starters, I made him promise to be in his best behaviour.
“And you must come back the following day, okay?” I said, and he nodded. As a general rule, a sleepover is a one-night affair. A day more would technically qualify for desertion.
“Yes, I will be back in time for breakfast on Monday,” he pledged.
It took plenty of convincing for Mama Jimmy to agree to this sleepover, but she finally did, at which I put a call through to Mama Mato and confirmed the boys’ plan. Jimmy could scarcely conceal his joy at this development, as was evidenced by the wide grin that developed on his face.
“Thanks daddy and mum!” he said. “I will be a good boy. Sitaenda kuwachomea picha!”
He then cleared his supper and made a prompt beeline for his bedroom, eager to call his friend and share the good news.
Thus, Jimmy will this afternoon attend Mato’s party, which will be followed by an orgy of unbridled fun and a sleepover.
As agreed, and if all goes according to plan, we expect him back home tomorrow.