They're called sleep-overs but there's very little sleep involved in those chatter-filled, overnight gatherings of young girls.
They should really be called talk-overs or giggle-overs. Sleep seems to be the last thing on their busy, little, teen-age minds.
A parent's primary role at a girls' sleep-over, particularly the Dad's role, is to stay out of the way. It's best if he retreat to a remote corner of the house for most of the evening. Any rooms that include a television, a refrigerator, a CD player or a microwave are generally considered off limits to Dad.
Engaging in conversation with the guests is discouraged. Once Dad has provided transportation and paid for the pizza he can pretty much go to bed. He often does.
Just so there is no misunderstanding, the young ladies who have been guests in our home have been gems. Unfailingly polite, considerate about our property, they're welcome in our home anytime.
However, there's something disconcerting when four or five young girls loaded down with backpacks and makeup cases the size of a small suitcase enter our home for a sleep-over. The family dog, Simon, sensing that his relaxing night-time routine is sure to be disturbed usually goes a little berserk when they arrive. We exchange sympathetic glances.
The girls often sleep over on dance night, but dancing doesn't seem to wear them out. Movies are usually rented, preferably teen favorites that everyone has seen so the girls can talk right through them.
The basement is their primary headquarters for the night. Sleeping accommodations in our basement include a double bed and one single bed, but they're never used. A view of the TV is the prime consideration rather than sleeping comfort. One recent sleep-over morning-after ended up with two girls crashed on the coach and one in the recliner.
When my daughter was asked why none of the beds were used she replied "That's were we kept our makeup."
There is a great deal of creative experimentation going on with makeup at these sleep-overs. Glitter, mascara, a substance that used to be called rouge but I think is now called blush, are all applied with great abandon.
Once at about 2 a.m. I had to let the dog outside and was greeted by my daughter and her friend, who were wide awake, eating pizza. Half asleep when I said hello to them, I did a double take worthy of Jack Benny when I suddenly noticed my daughter was made up like Tammy Faye Baker.
Understatement is a quality that's rarely demonstrated by seventh-grade girls. Hellos and good-byes are drawn out and exaggerated with dramatic hugs and mock tears. A group of girlfriends who saw each other at the conclusion of school will embrace as if they were long-lost relatives two hours later when they're reunited for a sleep-over.
It's great to have my daughters friends over but there's something scary about being in the house with that much youthful energy.
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