Last night I asked a friend with a daughter who is a junior in high school if she would talk to me about the co-ed sleepover phenomenon for the fishbowl. Here’s what I got in response:
So, prom is Saturday and my daughter has tried on her dress about 45 times–not sure the zipper is going to last! “Plans” (we should really sit down and talk about what this word means) are still evolving for the post-post-prom, although we have said “no way in hell” to the co-ed sleepover. I mean, really? So, maybe “Zoe” is going to have a sleepover, but just girls. (Again, really? How dumb do I look?) So hard to know the right thing to do here! Many of those on the brave frontier who have gone before us have allowed their kids to attend/crash/hang at the post-post-prom co-ed sleepover. Are we shriveled up dinosaurs who have forgotten how to have fun? Or are we a few of the handful left who are willing to be unpopular with our kids?? We have actually sent an email, tonight, to the Maryland Department of Transportation to find out if a provisional license holder (such as most high school juniors and many seniors) can use the exception of “official school event” to get out of the driving curfew to come home after the post-post-prom party by him or herself at 4 in the morning…
“Don’t you trust me?” These words sting coming from my daughter’s sincere face. “Of course we trust you.” What else can we say? We do. And yet, there is something about the co-ed sleepover that just does not sit right. When she pushes for an explanation, the best I can answer, in all sincerity, is that I think it is “inappropriate.” Do I know that teenagers can have sex whenever they want, if they want? Yes, I know that. Do I know that teenagers can drink and get drunk whenever they want, if they want? Yes, I know that. Do I think these are the choices she is making? No, I do not. So what is different about the hours of 3 a.m. to 7 a.m. this Saturday night? I don’t know. But my instinct is that, at least for us, the answer is still no. The best I can tell her is that parenting is just a chain of thousands of tiny decisions, all made with her best interest at heart, and this one is no exception.
My husband says the co-ed sleepover is a playground for the devil, and that teenage boys and girls having a sleepover is an abdication of a basic parenting responsibility–to keep them safe, and protected. If you are not going to say no to that what are you going to say no to? Ignoring the obvious hyperbole, these comments and questions all resonate until I hear that my dear friend, so and so, whom I really like and respect, is HOSTING the co-ed sleepover!! What?? Who is right and who is wrong? Or like so many other things on this wild, fantastical journey, is there room for both of us to do it our own way, and be right? That’s the space that feels comfortable for us, so that is where we land. I don’t know what works for other families, but this year, this prom, my daughter will be coming home.