When I was teen, I was cursed with raking three acres of leaf-ridden lawn if I ever misbehaved while on a sleepover. So I made damn sure I was courteous, ate whatever was put in front of me, and never acted like a tool.
Until I turned 13, and my friend and I decided to light up an old cigarette we found in an abandoned car behind her house. Her mom happened to be walking the dog about the same time I got the Virginia Slim lit and let out my very first nicotine-infused puff (and nearly choked to death).
She was livid and called my mom before I even had the chance to breathe. I remember my insides turning into a knot of anxiety and feeling like a complete schmuck. I had broken a cardinal rule – one that was important to my family, and one that I had always followed. I didn’t want my friend’s parents to hate me or to ban me from going to their house. This was the first and last time I ever caused a problem while on a sleepover.
It seems today’s teens never received the sleepover etiquette memo. Or parents are not following up to make sure their kids are being good away-for-the-night citizens. Since I’m seeing a pattern, here are six reasons your teen won’t be sleeping at my house again anytime soon:
I don’t expect teenagers to go to bed early. They have endless endurance (when they’re not asked to take out the garbage or do the dishes) and love to see how long they can stay up before falling asleep.
But when they come to my house, I expect there to be some level of respect. I have two littles living under the same roof in a very tiny house. It’s okay to talk, laugh, and have fun. When they’re screaming about missing a kill (video games; come on now) or laughing so loudly the walls are shaking, it’s too much. And I will call them out. Or take them home. They can wake you up and let you know what happened.
I make my teen shower, brush his teeth, and put on deodorant before heading out for a sleepover. Since teen boys are especially known to smell like… boy, it’s a common courtesy. Nothing hits you in the face quite like the odor of a stale teen armpit that hasn’t been washed for 48 or more hours. When they're in a small room hanging out, no. Just no. Please have them shower before they come over or at least take one while they are at my house.
I do not have an unlimited food budget. We typically shop once a week and whatever we have needs to last those seven days. So when your kid comes over and starts eating everything in sight (and doesn’t stop), I have a problem. There is breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a few snacks. Anything else, he better pack it and bring it along.
My teen isn’t perfect. He makes mistakes, and does things without thinking them through. But I do believe he has basic street smarts and knows if something is potentially life threatening. If your teen comes over and I hear a whisper of bridge jumping or using any type of illegal drug… the beast will be unleashed. Do not get me started.
Truth be told, I swear like 50 Cent. I’m also an adult and try to limit my cursing around the littles. When the Master of Curseaster enters my home and starts going off at the mouth, I’m unamused. First, he’s a guest. Second, there are only so many F-bombs that can be infused into one sentence before it loses its artistic flair. Remind him to use a filter or his best discretion.
Manners. Manners. Manners. They count for something. A lot, actually. Teach your teen that it is very appropriate to say thanks when leaving a sleepover (or being dropped back home). It helps them learn how to express gratitude for the little things in life. This will come in handy when they’re expected to work in a team environment. Or when they get married someday.
Don’t get me wrong. Most sleepovers we have go well and the kids are great. There’s just that occasional teen who will never step foot in my house again to spend the night. It’s either that, or expect him knocking at your door at 1 a.m. jacked up on snack cakes and zombies that never seem to die.