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Simply Entertaining: How to ensure a sleepover that is flush with success

Thursday, August 22, 2002

By Mary Miller

Last year we purchased a new videorecorder to replace our vintage 1984 monstrosity. We gave the old camera to our daughters to record skits and silly dances with friends. For a few months, this was just peachy.

Then came the night of the sleepover. Once the friends arrived, they decided to document the evening on video. Fine. The girls were especially noisy that night -- so loud that my husband moved from our bed to the sofa, to a room far away from the party, and finally to the backseat of our van in the driveway in order to get some sleep. I, on the other hand, loved the noise. The girls were laughing and giggling for hours, having fun with the camera. I could hear their conversations (albeit loud) and heard nothing inappropriate.

Happy noise. What a welcome change from their first overnighters, where pint-size friends got homesick and went home crying at 2 in the morning. In the past, we'd been awakened to sounds of sleepover guests throwing up, sobbing (and hiding in the closet), or shrieking during a thunderstorm. I'm sure my kids have done the same (actually they've done worse, I already know this, so don't bother writing to tell me). So with all my experience with slumber parties, laughter was just not a problem.

Early the next morning parents arrived to pick up their daughters. Since the little videographers were so excited to show off their creation, we all sat in the family room, popped the video in, and were exposed to the reason for the hilarity. The girls had been giving each other swirlies, putting their heads in the basement toilet and flushing, so the water twisted their hair into a swirl. Parents looked shocked, and I was embarrassed.

OK, it was a little disgusting, but it was funny. Compared to some of the really bad things they could be doing, a little creative hair care was fine with me. But with all of the germs that lurk in bathrooms, once was enough for the swirlies.

Slumber parties can be stressful for parents and children. These tips might help eliminate problems.

1. Remember that every home has different rules. Make yours known once children arrive. Don't expect them to know what's important to you. If you don't want food anywhere but in the kitchen, tell them. No glass in the basement? Just say so. What if a mistake happens? Just try not to yell at your children's friends. This makes your kid feel like a loser.

2. Safety is so important when you're responsible for other children. Don't let them play golf in your back yard in a thunderstorm. Check on them every hour or so to make sure things are under control. (I did this, honest.)

3. Ask parents about any rules of their own. Movies are often an issue. Before the party, find out if your group is allowed to watch G, PG, PG-13, or (Eeek!) R movies. Before renting a movie, check out www.screenit.com for in-depth reviews of movie content. It's difficult for kids to speak up once the film begins. No one wants to be the odd man (or child) out and have to sit upstairs with the dog while buddies watch the movie. This will guarantee that the other kids will plaster their face with shaving cream or stick their hand in warm water once they are asleep. It's just the way it goes. But a parent who knows your rules ahead of time can save the day (or night).

4. Have activities in mind if the party turns into a dud. Take the group swimming, mini-golfing or for ice cream. Keep water balloons handy. Suggest a game of charades, or a craft such as making tie-dyed T-shirts.

5. Before your children leave for a sleepover at another home, review your own rules for good behavior with them.

According to my girls, Amanda Randazza's mom, Beth, makes the best post-sleepover breakfasts. Special pancakes are often part of the menu. Here is her easy secret.

To your favorite pancake batter, add any of the following:

Chocolate chips (a favorite)

Shredded apple and cinnamon

Granola

Fresh or frozen blueberries

Chopped and drained peaches

Sliced bananas

M & M's


Mary Miller is a Fox Chapel-based registered dietitian and food writer. Her column appears twice monthly. For questions or comments, she can be reached at marymar333@attbi.com.

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