In a moment of what must’ve been temporary insanity, I gave in to my younger son’s big blue-eyed pleas to have his best friend spend the night. I called to invite the boy over. We worked out a time for him to be dropped off on Saturday.
In hindsight, I realize I missed a few red flags.
- He’d just showed up at our house the week before to spend the night- but no one knew about it but him.
- His mom was going to be at someone else’s house that didn’t have good cell reception, but texts could go through. (Hello- should’ve asked if that person had a home phone number.)
- I had smiled and nodded when she described her son as, “very active, and all boy.” I have two sons, so I get that…or so I thought.
I didn’t realize at the time that “very active” and “all boy” were code for “under-developed listening skills” and “over-developed skills involving lying and sneaking his way out of obeying rules.”
The evening routine was a bit comical, with him claiming he didn’t have toothpaste and wasn’t allowed to borrow any from us. When he insisted on going home after I denied his plea to play a video game before bed, I texted his mom. I waited ten minutes as the kid stood at my door insisting I drive him to a place he didn’t know the address of, but knew how to get there.
He wouldn’t budge, so I brought out the big guns: I woke my husband.
At his command, the kid got in bed- and stayed there. Two hours later, I got a text response from the kid’s mom, but the crisis was already over.
The next morning, I busted him twice sneaking food upstairs (we only allow food downstairs, at the table.) Both times he lied about it. Perhaps he didn’t look closely enough to see all my wrinkles, which would have revealed that I was indeed, not born yesterday.
“Do you have food in your pockets?” I asked.
“No,” he said with a charming smile. (I’m immune to that, by the way.)
“Really? I heard crinkling when you walked. Let’s try this again: Do you have food in your pocket?”
Both times he thought about whether or not to fess up.
“I’ll search your pockets if I need to.”
Both times, he made a wise choice: he handed the snacks over.
“But I’m hungry,” he said.
“If you want a snack, all you have to do is ask and I’ll fix something for you to eat at the table. You don’t have to steal food and sneak it upstairs.”
Our seven-year-old visitor taught me much in the twenty six hours and seventeen minutes he spent at our house. He left me exhausted, with a migraine, and a respect for tenacity (of both adult and child.) He is also a reminder of a prayer for patience that I said many years ago. Although I’ve long since retracted that prayer, I believe this was another of God’s attempts to break me into a more patient person. I’m not sure it worked. I may be a bit wiser, though.
In the wake of his presence were trees with aching branches, not strong enough to be climbed; an assortment of broken toys; a relieved Lizzy (who hissed often, but didn’t scratch his eyes out as he lugged her around the house… after repeated warnings to let her go;) a car sick frog who will be more careful when hopping around our yard (I’d told him several times that the frog didn’t want to die- I mean ride in the remote controlled car;) and two brothers who were too tired to fight (hey, that’s one good thing that came of it!)
After our visitor left, my older son asked if his friend could spend the night next weekend. I just stared at him, uncertain if he was serious, or if this was his sick sense of humor coming out to play. Either way, I suspect this might be part of a diabolical plan to nudge me into the abyss of insanity.
Update: My sanity is hanging by a thread, but still in place. We have not had any more young overnight visitors since that memorable night. And, since I told my son his friend is never, ever coming over again, he has made a few new friends. Whew!