Not only have the male Elisofons flocked back to the nest, but it also looks like a couple of guests will be joining us. (Temporarily, Thank God). Sarah’s boyfriend, Jake, will be staying at our apartment Friday night instead of our daughter going there, as she usually does. Just when I was getting comfortable with the idea that Sarah and Jake were peacefully enjoying Friday nights at his bedbug-free apartment, he noticed a bite (or three?) on his arm. (See my 10/9/13 blog, “Going Buggy”).
“They’re probably mosquito bites.” Sarah tries to assure me. “But just to be on the safe side, Jake asked if he could stay over at our house on Friday.”
I look at Henry (who had blissfully drifted off to sleep during the evening news) and nudge him. But how can we say no, when we’ve been allowing Max’s girlfriend to stay overnight on a Friday or Saturday night? Especially since Jake was trying to “protect” Sarah…. During a previous bedbug incident in the beginning of their relationship, I had been able to keep the romance on hold until Jake’s apartment had been fumigated. But now, almost six months later, there’s no keeping these autistic spectrum lovebirds apart
“As long as he takes precautions…” I sigh. Those precautions include changing into a bathrobe and putting his clothes into a sealed plastic bag before entering our apartment. It’s one of those times that saying “yes” is just as difficult as saying “no.” Both choices leave me anxious and unhappy.
I love my kids dearly, and they are always welcome. But our apartment is on the snug side, and I never envisioned our home turning into a motel or dorm room with amenities. Still, it’s my own fault for opening the door to their respective girlfriends and boyfriends. I wanted to know my kids were home safely, and I didn’t want to worry or wait up till 3 AM or later. Being a worrier, I also didn’t want to put Max’s pretty young friend at risk by forcing her to take a long subway ride home in the wee hours of a Saturday night with all of the drunken partiers. Okay, I admit it I also wanted to be the cool mom, who occasionally said “yes” to things many parents wouldn’t allow. Instead I’ve become “unreasonable” and uncool for not allowing Max to have his girlfriend stay over during the week.
After 9 days in California, Max has returned home to wait for news on his career. The suspense has been torture for him (and no picnic for us either). Jittery and exhausted, he asked if his girlfriend could stay over.
“Yes,” I said, partly out of the goodness of my heart, but also because I saw a way to make a deal. I’d trade him Tuesday night for Friday, so I wouldn’t have his girlfriend AND Sarah’s boyfriend both bunking chez Elisofon on the same night. I know I’m probably crazy. As the innkeeper/ Mama Bird here, I have the right to turn away guests whenever the rooms are full (or even if I’m not in the mood). Henry and I pay the rent; our 23 year old twins now live here at our discretion, not theirs.
How many parents allow their young adult kids to have their respective boyfriends and girlfriends sleep over? None of the parents of daughters I know do (with one quirky exception). Probably most would be horrified. Even in today’s more liberal (but still somewhat sexist society), most parents of sons don’t allow it either. Not a single one of Max’s many friends had that privilege. Since his senior year in high school, Max was the envy of all his friends (and the subject of disapproving gossip among their parents).
What do the parents on Google say? When it comes to “co-ed sleepovers after college,” most of the parents who posted said no, regardless of whether they had sons or daughters. Some who allowed co-ed sleepovers insisted that guests of the opposite sex sleep on the couch, in different rooms, or at the very least, required the bedroom door left open. Often the decision to allow the sleepover happened only because of the fear of kids driving home drunk late at night.
While Henry and I are definitely in the permissive minority, there were some insightful posts from a few parents who seem to agree with our position:
“Co-ed sleepovers are forbidden in our family unless the offspring is 18, in which case it’s his/her decision and responsibility.”
“College is a 4 year coed sleepover. If you’re going to trust her to make her own decisions then, why wouldn’t you trust her now?”
“When well over half of high school seniors are sexually active, there’s an awful lot of sex not happening on this board (or someone’s not telling).”
“No one on this board has kids who drink or have sex (except me)?!”
Of course the question of whether to allow your kids to have one (or more) overnight guests of the opposite sex is as complicated as it is personal. How did you feel about your parent’s rules? Are your kids mature and/or responsible enough to have sex and at what age? Do you allow any and all young men and women to stay over?
I respected my parents’ rules—no co-ed sleepovers, no (obvious) sex—as typical of the era, even if I didn’t like them. After college, I simply didn’t come home on some nights, which my Dad didn’t like but had to respect because I was over 21.
As for my own kids, Max had his first serious relationship at 18 with a high school sophomore whose parents happened to be liberal. Luckily, they really liked my son and—crazy though it may sound—allowed their daughter to sleep over. That relationship lasted three years.
Sarah had her first serious boyfriend during her first year of college. He practically lived with her in college, but didn’t “sleep over” at our house till our daughter was 20. Their relationship lasted two years.
Contrary to the way it might appear to some readers, I don’t allow casual sex or one night stands in our apartment. As I have explained to Max and Sarah, our apartment is NOT a motel or a co-ed dorm. There are rules about who can and can’t stay overnight, how often and under what conditions. My kids may find my rules arbitrary and not fully understand them.
But make no mistake. When it comes to guests in our nest, Mama bird has the last word.