The schmurrt-free sleepover

My children are of age, and I’m still of age enough to remember my days as a child who longed to sleepover at someone’s house, or to have someone sleep over mine.  I hear my own kids pleading with me, “can I have so-and-so sleep over?” or “can I please sleep at so-and-so’s house?” and I have sudden flashbacks to my youth.
It was all pretty fuzzy back then, when my actions where influenced not by my brain and general mature reasoning.  Instead, they were governed by my desire for things I didn’t have at home.  Some would call it gluttony, some would call it greed.  I would call it the ability to mix up a bunch of different pop and not get in trouble.
Also, boys.
My parents raised me in a house of loosely enforced rules, where they would encourage me with the following, “do whatever you want as long as you don’t hurt yourself, anyone else, or anyone’s property.”  And then, as a side note one of my parents would add, “don't make no schmurrrt.”    (That last word is obviously a sound effect, a bit of onomatopoeia that refers to a cross between a old-school Polish word and a bodily function.)  Basically, they would look down on me in shame if I did anything that was considered a bad choice, or in their words, a schmurrrt.
But my friend’s mom didn’t have such high standards.
We watched scary movies and mixed fourteen different kinds of pop together and talked about boys and ate brownies at 2 AM.  We slept in until 11 and listened to pop music and she had posters on her wall that weren’t of great scientists and optical illusions.  She was cool, and when I was there, I was cool, too.
But there’s a catch 22 involved.
She always liked to stay at my house, as well.  Because while her parents were mainstream fun, mine filled dozens of water balloons for us to smash with baseball bats and we had a dress-up bin of wild clothes and a video camera.   We slept outside and ate fresh popcorn covered in real butter.  I had posters on my wall that weren’t torn out of magazines.  I was cool, and when she was there, she was cool, too.

And now I’m a parent, with three children who all want to either have someone here or go away.  When their friends are here I find myself always trying to be the cool parent, knocking myself out so that their friends will love to be here.  And when my children are away, I just flat out really miss them.
It’s a conundrum laced with a labor of love, wrapped up in a gypsy costume and a feather boa from the dress-up bin.  But when it’s all said and done, time flies faster than one of those water balloons, so no matter at whose house they stay, I’m going to try to keep it cool and hope that they, as well as I, don’t make no schmurrrt.

Written/published 9/7/14


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