So Lila gets an invitation to a schoolmate’s birthday sleepover and before she can tumble off the bus good, she’s shoving the little glossy card in my hand: “Can I go, please, please, puh-leeze, Mommy?”
All that begging and you’d think I don’t let her go anywhere.
And er, um, you’d be right.
Yes, I raise my hand and readily admit that I’m a play date blocker. Like, on the highest levels. If I don’t know your mama, I haven’t been to your house for any significant length of time, I haven’t a clue who all lives there, and your kid’s home-training is a little questionable? Nope—my kid’s not coming over.
Think this is a little excessive? Eh, not in my book. See, my mother was the same way—would look at me like I had four tongues and an extra set of teeth if I fixed my mouth to ask if I could hang out with someone other than her pre-approved list of kids. As far as she was concerned, I didn’t need any more stinking friends. Every last one of the ones she’d hooked me up with went to our church—the children of my mom’s long-time girlfriends. On Saturdays, we kids all hung out at the bowling alley, chewing on steak fries and scrounging for quarters for another game of Ms. Pac Man and Centipede while our parents slammed their bowling balls at the pins. If the ‘rents were feeling particularly randy, we’d all end up in someone’s basement, playing Monopoly and Connect Four and eating bowls of chitlins and collards while our parents talked and laughed about grown-up stuff with the other grown-up folk. And on Sundays, we all shared the same pews—reciting our Bible verses together and singing in the youth choir.
Those kids—they were family. Fully vetted. Millner endorsed. A decent bunch. Mommy could leave me at any one of their houses and trust that I was being well cared for, nobody was filling my head with nonsense or saying and doing inappropriate things in front of me or to me, and when she picked me up, I was a reasonably happy camper—the same kid she dropped off.
These days, things just ain’t the same. Moms are dressing up their 10-year-olds in skin tight skinny jeans and high heeled shoes (like my Nick wrote about HERE), letting them surf the internet unchecked, and parking them in front of the TV to watch whatever, without any concern for the messages their kids—and mine!—are picking up from wholly inappropriate shows. Heck, go on YouTube and search “Stanky Leg,” and see how many videos you find of babies in diapers, dropping it like it’s hot to that explicit song—all-too-many of them in front of video cameras operated by their mamas (like in THIS ONE).
All I’m saying is there are a scary amount of parents out there who can, in an evening, defile my kids in ways that are wholly intangible until my girls are standing in front of their grandfather, surfing YouTube, quoting Lil’ Wayne, doing the Stanky Leg and begging for stilettos.
No ma’am—I can’t have that. Lila and Mari are my pride and joy, and their parents work too hard to let them enjoy being little girls to have it all ruined during the course of a sleepover.
Which was a little hard to explain to the 7-year-old, who really just wanted to hit her friend’s slumber party hard—overdose on pizza and cake frosting and giggle through the night with her fellow 2nd graders. I sympathized with her plight, but yeah, sleeping over at that girl’s house was a no-go.
Luckily, my dear friend Gretchen, who is every bit as concerned about such things as I when it comes to her Maggie—Lila’s best friend—came up with the brilliant idea to let our girls go to the party and stay until cake was served, then retire to their own private little slumber party over at Gretchen’s house, where the girls could have plenty of age-appropriate play, be in bed by a decent hour, and I could trust that my kid would come home the same sweet, innocent, 7-year-old Lila as when she left our house.
So yeah, I draw my lines a little differently from a few of the other moms around my way. And my girls may think I’m a little too old school—a little too strict when it comes to scrutinizing who has the honor and privilege of my girls’ company.
But hey—that’s why they’re the kids and I’m the mom.