You wouldn’t know it to look at me, but I love a good party. I love cocktail parties and Super Bowl parties and Christmas parties and birthday parties. I even love the more controversial party themes: costume and surprise. There is one party, however, that I cannot stand. It is the bane of the existence of every parent—a waking nightmare fraught with danger, discomfort and negative repercussions. Have you guessed it yet? I am, of course, talking about the ironically named slumber party.
At what age do we figure out that sleeping is enjoyable? There is a tipping point right around 13 or 14 where we decide to sleep, not out of necessity, but by choice; when the thought of crawling into bed on a rainy Saturday afternoon is like some unattainable fantasy. Sadly for Punch, that time has not yet come. For Punch, a slumber party is an invitation to stay up all night, play video games and raid the refrigerator. Pity the poor kid who has the foresight and maturity to admit he is tired and falls asleep first.
Now if you have a child who is lucky enough to survive the sleepless night unscathed, you know that the fun is just beginning. The worst hangover from a regular party lasts a day…tops— and that includes the time I switched from Champagne to tequila mid-party. The hangover from a slumber party can last for days. The mere mention of walking the dog or doing homework can induce sobbing. A hangnail or a skinned knee would seem to require an emergency room visit, and any food but cheese pizza or McDonald’s is poison—actually that last part is true of me, too, but only for a meal or two.
Adults don’t have slumber parties for one simple reason: Sleep is good. For some bizarre reason, between the ages of 8 and 12, kids seem to forget that simple fact. And the more tired Punch gets, the more adamant he is that he is not tired. It has been three days since his last slumber party. He should be getting back on track soon. Another day of foot stomping and door slamming, and the worst is over. It’s exhausting.