As a girl I remember begging my mom to let me spend the night at my friend’s house. But sleepovers and slumber parties were concepts my mother could not understand. “You have your own house and your own bed,” she’d say.
In the sixth grade my best friend Raquel had a slumber party. She invited me and five other girls. I was the only one not allowed to stay over. My mother came to pick me up at 10 pm just as my friends were changing into the pajamas, their pillows and blankets laid out all over the living room floor. Raquel’s parents had a big color TV and a VCR. My friends were going to stay up all night and watch movies. It was the longest walk back home and I refused to talk to my mother.
I couldn’t understand what the big deal was. Everyone else was able to do it, why couldn’t I?
But my mother was one of those strict old school, over protective Puerto Rican mothers and she kept me on a short leash. I wasn’t allowed to play outside. I wasn’t allowed to go to parties. I wasn’t allowed to go to a friend’s house unless she met their parents first and saw their home. And if I asked if I could go to a friend’s house, my mother always asked the same question: Is their father home?
Now that I’m older I understand why my mom was against sleepovers and reluctant about playdates. My mother wasn’t trying to keep me from having fun. She was trying to protect me. My mother just didn’t feel comfortable with her daughter being around men she didn’t know.
And as a mom, I don’t know if I’d allow my son, Norrin, to sleepover anyone’s house. Obviously our circumstances are different. Norrin has autism and doesn’t really have any friends for sleepovers to be an option. But if it were, I don’t know how comfortable I’d feel about it. Norrin doesn’t have the language to tell me if someone tried to hurt him.
And I’m hesitant about playdates. I do not feel comfortable allowing Norrin to be in anyone’s house unless I am present. Norrin can be quite the daredevil and requires constant supervision.
When I was a kid, I didn’t think I’d ever be an overprotective parent like my mother. Funny how things change when kids grow up and become parents.
Were you allowed to go to sleepovers when you were a kid? Do you allow your kids to spend the night at a friends house? Why or why not?
Read more of Lisa’s writing at AutismWonderland.
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