Making the case for sleepovers– What kids learn from a night away

I remember my first sleepover very clearly. I was in Kindergarten, it was mid-December, and my parents had finally allowed me to stay at my very best friend Marina's house overnight. I remember arriving at her house and like countless play dates before we made forts, built Lego empires and snacked on Pirate's Booty and juice boxes. At dinner, her father turned on the kitchen television and I was stunned. "TV at dinner?" I exclaimed, "Is that allowed?" I don't remember her parents' exact response but it became clear to me that this house played (and ate) by a different set of rules. 
After dinner, Marina's mother set out cookie dough and tree shaped cookie cutters for us to get to work making holiday cookies. After I stamped and separated my first row, I tore some cookie dough from the edge and plopped it in my mouth- something my own mother and I had done countless times before. Marina's mom watched, dismayed as I chewed and scolded me for sneaking the dough before it was cooked. "No more of that or we'll be done with the cookies, understand?" I was confused but learning that Marina's household functioned differently than my own.
After the cookies had baked, cooled, and paired with a cold glass of milk, Marina's dad cleared our dishes and her mom kissed our foreheads and headed out the door for work. As a late night delivery nurse, she worked odd hours and some weekends. "But it's a Saturday... and it's the night time," I whispered to Marina. She seemed un-phased. "Yeah, that's when my mom goes to work sometimes." 
The next morning, I woke up in an unfamiliar bed to the unfamiliar sound of Marina's older brother playing video games in the next room and ate an unfamiliar breakfast. When my dad came to pick me up, I was proud to have successfully completed my first sleepover but eager to get home for my normal Sunday routine with my own family.
The evening was unremarkable by most accounts. But the experience has stuck with me ever since for a very important reason. It was one of the first times I became cognizant that other kids lived differently than I. Marina by most accounts was quite similar to me. But her family watched TV at dinner time, frowned up the consumption of cookie dough, and her parents headed to and from work at different times than my own. 
The case for sleepovers is the out of house immersion kids get when experiencing a lifestyle change that is different, if only slightly, than their own. It helps kids to experience first hand that by comparison, most families have A TON of differences and that this is neither good nor bad- it just is. 
The image on this blog belongs to the book:  "Le cabinet des émotions: aidez votre enfant à bien dormer." Author: Stéphanie Couturier


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