William's best friend is Clarissa. William and Clarissa are in the fifth grade---so, they are in the 10-11 age range. This past weekend they asked if they could have a sleepover. Hm. How about NO.
Or...maybe we should say yes. What can we give them as a reason for saying no, considering that if William's best friend were a boy we wouldn't have had the same reaction? What IS the reason for the different reaction? I'm remembering how indignant and outraged and self-righteous and "Who is it exactly we think is going to barge into our house and see me in my room with a boy and jump to the conclusion of EVIL, and what do we care about what other people think if they're DIRTY-MINDED AND WRONG?"-ish I felt about my parents' "avoid the appearance of evil" reason when I was in that age range and wasn't allowed to have boys in my room, so I'd like to think of another way to explain it so that I don't have to have that conversation with someone like I was.
Or considering we don't even know yet if either kid is attracted to the opposite sex anyway, perhaps we have to re-think the whole part about separating boys and girls. Plus, I had many guy friends in high school who, even though I was attracted to boys, I wasn't attracted to AT ALL. Not even a little. Would have been repulsed at the thought of being attracted to them.
It's also worth taking into account that even if William's best friend were a boy I'd be looking for an excuse to say no, because hosting a sleepover sounds...unpleasant. But it's good we're thinking about this, because we are FLYING into the age range where this WHOLE TOPIC needs to be considered---not just for sleepovers but for all situations when the kids' friends are over here. I wasn't allowed to have boys in my room, but I was allowed to have girls in my room; I don't know what rules to have for my own kids. A difference to consider: I had my own room, and so does Elizabeth, but the boys share rooms.
What if we said yes, but they could have the sleepover in the living room? And then maybe when they were ready to go to sleep, Clarissa could go to Elizabeth's room? But again, if Clarissa were a boy, we might have them in the living room (because William shares a room with Henry, and because sleepovers require a parent to keep going in and asking for the noise to be kept down and suggesting it's time to go to sleep) but we wouldn't split them up at sleeping time---but if we knew William was gay, we would. Maybe we should set a rule now that for ALL sleepovers the kids get split up at sleeping time, to make it an easier standard to apply. That kind of kills the concept of a sleepover, though, and we don't have a spare bedroom, and I'm pretty sure people can walk from one room to another when everyone else is asleep, if that's what they have in mind.
Maybe we shouldn't allow sleepovers; our lives were easier before we started thinking about this. But sleepovers are a cool kid-stage-of-life experience, and maybe we don't actually want to say no to that. Plus, our kids might get invited to other people's sleepovers, where we have significantly less say in how things go...and also there are Bad Stories about sleepovers and the adults and/or older children in other households. Hey, look, I found something else to worry about!
Probably Clarissa's mom would say no to the sleepover idea anyway---or maybe she'd think we were puritanical and weird for thinking we should say no. Maybe she'd think we were Implying Things about her daughter, and/or about her daughter's relationship with our son. Maybe she'll say yes, and then William will be invited to their house for a sleepover, and we'll have to either say yes or think of a reason that doesn't sound like we're assuming Bad Things Happen if boys and girls don't stay a pew's width apart and keep both feet on the floor.
I'm trying to remember how _I_ felt about boys in the fifth grade. I'd definitely had crushes, but they weren't yet obsessing my mind. Sixth grade was when that got started, but still not in full swing. Seventh grade was when boys became a more serious consideration. So in fifth grade I could have had a sleepover with a boy (but it's hard to imagine it because I would have found that idea appalling: in my PAJAMAS near a BOY??). But I went to a small private middle school: there were only three boys in my class in fifth grade and two of them were fourth graders i.e. BABIES. Things might have been different if there had been a larger selection. And I'm remembering my friend who lost her virginity at age 12 after a long string of related leading-up-to-it experiences, and the sister of a friend who did the same. These things do happen.
It boils down to this: We don't know if there should be different rules for boy-girl friendships or how to enforce them, but it's the time to think rapidly and get some policies in place before we're arguing with teenagers. It's an interesting topic for me to think about, but also stressful.
Review blog stuff: Home Depot (about small ways to do good environmental stuff), and Hellmann's (with a turkey-dinner-leftovers recipe and a sweepstakes to win a $100 Cooking.com gift card).
Milk and Cookies: Toy gift ideas I've already played with (alternate title: "My mom and aunt went toy shopping and I used all their successful ideas as my own").
Life-improving products, part 4 - (Continued from part 1, part 2, and part 3.) Stearns Youth Life Vest (photo from Amazon.com). I’d been too scared to take the kids to any body of water oth...