Middle School Sleepover Talk

“If Trump builds a wall, there won’t be anybody to mow the lawn.”

“Yeah, I think the guys who cut our grass are Mexican.”

“I’m pretty sure ours are Thai.”

My son grinned, “We have two Irish guys. Me and my brother.”

You mow your lawn?!”

“But you’re not really Irish.”

Later, when we went from the car to the house through the garage, one of his friends paused at the lawn mower. He waved his hands above it as if performing magic and spoke in a low and ominous voice. “This is Jackson’s mower.”

A Window into the Past

When I was twelve to fourteen, I traveled in a pack that our moms called The Mafia. We were mostly a mix of boys and girls who did Drama on Tuesdays and Saturdays or were in Team Four. That group expanded a little when we got to high school, then eventually dissolved into different interests and diversified friends.

A few years ago, I found out that most adults do not have good memories of seventh and eighth grade. I was shocked. I had a blast. I belonged. School was more fun than it would ever be again, and after school was even more so.

Still, there was a part of The Mafia that I felt excluded from, and though I knew I could not be included, I felt I was missing out. It was when the boys in our group hung out – just them. The crew would stay overnight after we all went sledding or to a dance or to the movies.

And I would fall asleep knowing that if were there with them, I would be laughing. I would be enjoying their rambunctiousness, which I admired. And given that I was in a family of all girls, I longed to be privy to the secret – and I assumed, hilarious – life of boys.

Last night, driving a bunch of boys from basketball practice back to our house for a sleepover, I was struck by the fact that fate has given me a glimpse – or a lifetime of glimpses – of the one thing I missed growing up.

They were really loud and ridiculously funny. They talked over each other even more than girls do. They have goofy, unexplainable nicknames. They wore their hearts on their sleeves, yet got no sympathy and moved on. They sang badly but passionately. They teased each other mercilessly, then laughed even more.

They even talked about Drama class and Dungeons and Dragons.

A gift to my middle school self.

Their Social Secretary

My kids are at that transitional age when social lives pick up, but mom is still making the plans. It struck me during a snow day last week that it is time to pass the torch.

When I was 13, I would call my friends’ home phones – I still remember their numbers – “Do you want to sleepover Friday?”

“Mom,” I would hear through the phone, “can I sleepover at Jenn’s?”

And that was it. Minimal parental involvement. In fact, the moms rarely talked until pick-up on Saturday morning.

Or if she lived in the neighborhood, “Mom, I’m going to Mary’s!” And the screen-door banged shut behind me as soon as I heard “Be home for dinner!”

Our lives, at 13, were more our own. Our time was ours to manage. Our friendships were ours to maintain and nourish. We weren’t waiting for our moms to call their friends to make our plans. How tied down our 12 and 13 year olds must feel!

Then on this last snow day, I got a call. A boy’s voice. My son’s friend. Apparently, he was not answering his phone. I handed mine over so they could talk. A minute later, “Mom, can I got to…”

Ready to fly out the door.

It is time.