Max had boys 13 friends over for his birthday party last night, 11 of whom slept over. The boys were great and Christine and I really didn’t have to do much of anything at all, but when the parents showed up things changed and it made me wonder what bad habits I’m empowering in my kids.
As you probably know I’m the king of “hands off” parenting. I ordered the Pizza, and helped two kids find bandaids. I also gave a few people directions to the bathroom and put away the ice cream so it didn’t melt (mostly because I wanted to eat it!). Christine did some kitchen cleanup after diner, but basically I just hung out and caught up on work and greeted the parents.
The kids played manhunt, zombie tag, and video games and watched movies and ate ice cream throughout the night. Another kid told me he was planning to do a little dance at 9:30 to celebrate they were up past their weekend bedtime and “Max said they were going to stay up late” and another kid intentionally didn’t bring a sleeping bag because “Max told me on the bus we weren’t going to sleep.” While most kids did sleep, Ferris Bueller went in around 3AM.
In the morning I woke up to someone shouting at 7 and almost got up, but then decided to sleep for another 30 minutes and then take a long hot shower to clear my sinuses before going down and asking “who’s making breakfast”. A number of kids got together and made breakfast while others bounced on the trampoline or played basketball or built with blocks in the living room (blocks really are for all ages, I can’t believe it but those chunks of wood definitely get used more than ANY other toy the kids have ever gotten).
After breakfast the parents started coming around, and while most kids behaved exactly the same, a few completely turned into different kids. One needed help finding things. Another got snappy and belligerent. Another who had never made pancakes before ended up making pancakes for a number of people and even remembered to turn off the stove when they were done, but suddenly they needed help from a parent to roll up their sleeping bag.
These kids are all around 10 years old, which means they’re all more than halfway to being adults, living on their own.
It makes me wonder what bad habits I’m empowering as a parent?