The First Sleep-Over, Take Two · 18 May 2007

Peter, our middle child, recently had his first sleep-over. He only had two friends over but it still reminded me of Zachary’s first (and only so far) sleep-over. That night of six young boys had lots of drama which I recorded for posterity. The account below is probably why we only let Peter have two friends over. Thankfully, it was much easier to get those three to sleep before midnight than the six we had years before.

The First Sleep-Over

I just love those nature shows where the lions are shown eating at night. The light shines in their eyes and they just go about their business. I would have loved to have one of those films of my son’s first sleep-over held at our house. Of course, I would have used a hidden camera with infrared because people do not just go about their business with a light shining and a camera rolling.

While watching the film with our neighbors, all of whom had at least one child stay over, the first thing we would see would be all six boys trying to settle in for the night. The clock would show about 10:15 and they would all be vying for position. Of course, these positions are changes from the ones we originally had seen when the sleeping bags were laid out and the kids were off getting ready for bed. We would also see my wife and I moving the furniture around so that everybody could sleep in the same room. (Sometime in the night one or more of the boys would move, but in reality, they all want to be together.) They finally decide on spots and the adults leave. As we watch the video, we know that the fun is about to begin.

The first character to show his face and the rest of his body is the streaker. The streaker seems to need to have his clothes off and wants everybody to know it. He tries to jump on the other boys just trying to wrestle and do other “boy” rough-housing but he is naked! The others evade the streaker and we hear somebody about to come back into the picture. The streaker gets into his sleeping bag but the ruckus he created earlier has brought the parent back into the picture. The parent wants to know what is going on and after hearing what had transpired, decides to let the streaker stay in the buff as long as he also stays under the covers. The parent leaves thinking that all is well. But alas, another incident caused by the streaker brings the parent into the picture again. He makes the streaker put on some of his clothes and then leaves again. Nobody wants to be too close to the streaker but it is evident that his time in the spotlight has ended.

Although the streaker streaks no more, the others want to keep away. They settle in then move, then settle in again. Eventually, all are virtually on top of one another as far from the streaker as possible. The parent enters again and moves them apart but they seem to be inseparable. That is, until we replay the scene. As we watch the scene again, we can see that in all of the movement, there is a lump that has not moved the entire time. When the streaker tries to be part of the group, the lump stays the same. That lump is the sleeper. While not every sleep-over has a streaker, all of them have a sleeper. This sleeper got to sleep late. He moved once or twice when the group was trying to avoid the streaker. Our sleeper seems to be much more active than most. As the film moves on, we know we can count on the sleeper giving us a visual point of reference even if he gives us no more drama.

We see the parent enter again just as we identify the next two characters in the bunch. The parent thinks that he will deter the ringleader and the noisemaker from doing their duties. He even stays on the couch to be a show of force to the boys. But the ring leader and the noisemaker are just entering center stage and will not be denied.

The ringleader is actually a bit quiet. He wants to stay up and keep others up but does not want to be a trouble maker. He just leads by example and plies his trade with cunning and deception. The ringleader asks questions of the parent to throw him off guard. He asks questions like, “Does caffeine really keep people up?” and “Has anybody proven that sugar does not give energy?” He already knows the answers but gets the parent involved with keeping everybody up. After all, the parent wants to indulge the boy’s curiosity about scientific concepts. He reasons that it is good for people to learn. The ringleader knows this and uses this knowledge to help keep everybody up. And his talking and questioning give the noisemaker his cue.

The noisemaker might be considered by some to be the trouble maker but he is just like the ringleader in that he just wants everybody to stay up. He merely uses bodily noises to do it instead of just talking. The noisemaker wants people to laugh. He moans and groans and tells everybody in no uncertain terms that he needs to pass gas. He even groans as if pushing it out to make the point more real. The parent falls for the bait and suggests that the noisemaker use the bathroom lest he pass something besides gas. Everybody laughs. Except of course, the sleeper. We see the exchange at least twice more before the parent suggests that the noisemaker be moved to another location. The noisemaker then tries to get somebody else involved.

The innocent bystander seems to want to be another sleeper. He is the one who insists that he wants to go to sleep by saying it and by shushing everybody else. We have seen the innocent bystander move several times and so wonder if he really wants to sleep. Since the parent is still in the picture, the noisemaker gets in the bystanders space. The bystander tells the noisemaker to “knock it off” and “quit touching me” which naturally helps them all stay awake. The bystander is doing his part. When it is suggested by the parent that the noisemaker and the bystander move farther from each other, they do but not very much. All seems quiet and ready for sleep as the parent leaves once more.

While the noisemaker and the bystander were doing their bit, the streaker decided that he needed to move to another room to sleep. He wanted to be another innocent bystander and he did his job well by moving and making noise in response to the noisemaker and original innocent bystander. After the parent leaves, the streaker turned bystander moves again into the sleeping room.

Talking, rearranging, and other noise is generated by all except, of course, the sleeper. The noise is quick and relatively quiet because they all know that the parent will be back if they are too loud for too long. The instigator knows that he needs to keep things rolling but not for too much longer. The instigator has already done his little bits. He has used his routine of getting comfy as a distraction. He has used his influence to have the noisemaker get a toy out of the closet. He has kept fairly quiet but the camera has often seen him speak or act before one of the others makes enough noise to bring the parent back into the picture. We hear the instigator tell everybody to hurry and get situated and to pretend to be asleep when the parent finally comes back. After a bit of talking and laughing and re-situating, we see that everybody is close to one another and all (except, of course, the sleeper) are having fun trying to be sneaky and make little noise. The instigator knows that only by being quiet can their unspoken goal of staying up all night be accomplished.

We see the parent enter one last time. He sits on the couch and observes the last head going down with eyes wide open. The last movements were seen and heard as the parent’s footsteps were heard nearing the sleeping room. The parent sits and as we watch, we sense that he knows they are all just faking (except, of course, the sleeper). He seems confident that he can be patient and soon they will not be faking. As we see on the clock, a mere 10 minutes proves he is right. It is almost midnight when he leaves the sleeping room with all asleep but we see him one last time about a half hour later making sure that all are tucked in. Only the parent has made it awake to see the next day.

© 2007 Michael T. Miyoshi

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