So, it looks like slumber parties are quickly becoming a thing of the past for many. Because of the threat of disastrous social media postings propelled by the poor judgement of children combined with nervous helicopter parents, many families are opting out.
I discovered this when I decided to write about sleepovers and did some research. I was looking for the history and origin of the pajama party—did little Mary Todd giggle about log cabin boys and hoop skirts with her girlfriends? Did Boudicea and her squad paint themselves blue and festoon the local Roman garrison with toilet paper?As best as I can tell, slumber parties became a mostly American thing after World War II. Madison Avenue sold the whole “suburban, two kids and a dog, backyard cookouts, summer vacations, car in the garage, wifey in the kitchen” scenario. Parents who just a few years earlier had learned that life can be changed forever in a moment wanted to live that safe and comfortable ideal.Pajama parties declared to the world there was enough room, food, and fun to share. That here was an average middle-class families that belonged. Just like Donna Reed, Leave It To Beaver, and Ozzie and Harriot; they were neither different nor unconventional.I grew up going to and throwing slumber parties. I consider myself somewhat of an authority on the rituals of mid-late 20th century pre-adolescent overnight accommodation festivities.The guest list is usually populated from classmates. But there are always one or two kids that the host knows from scouts, or dance class, or somewhere else. This child will know no one else and unless of unusually strong personality, feels like a duck at an armadillo farm.There will be a sad sack. This is a child with little or no sleepover experience who is both timid and quiet. Often the child’s presence on the guest list is at the mom’s behest and will be cousin, younger neighbor child, or child of a parent’s friend. The glamorous child. This kid is possibly a bit older, but definitely more sophisticated. In a room of tweens, she will be the only one with a bra and a boyfriend. Pajamas will be silky rather than snuggly and lip gloss will not be clear. Almost always gets her own way when she declares something is “lame”.The suck-up. This is the same kid that in school reminds the teacher she forgot to assign homework. This kid is kind of a pill and will strongly object to most of the dares in “Truth or Dare”. But she will get help if things go south, and her mere attendance will keep the shenanigans from going from mischief territory into felony-ville.At least one person will get their feelings hurt and there will be tears—often from the sad sack, but sometimes it will be the young hostess. Emotions are high at these parties, and the hormones flow like beer at a frat party. Normally the rest of the invitees will then go into protective mode and tissues, “I love yous”, and promises of undying friendship will abound.There’s also a high probability that at least one child will call their parents to be picked up. Homesickness is the most desirable motivation, but much more likely will be the result of upset tummies and unsightly fluidic eruptions.
The approximate cumulative sleep from an average guest list of six children for the duration of this so-called “slumber” party is a total of 90 minutes. It is strongly suggested there be multiple adults in the home, and they sleep in shifts—fully clothed.Thanks for your time.