Monday, July 24, 2006


When I was in junior high and much of high school, I spent most of the summer at my grandparents house in Detroit. (And by saying “Detroit” I actually mean “Detroit” – not a suburb, not Dearborn, but, Detroit, really. My grandparents lived off of Telegraph between Joy and Warren. It was a neighborhood mostly populated, at that time, by Detroit police officers and fire fighters.) Part of this was because my two youngest brothers went to day camp, and my three other siblings split their time between their mother’s house and their father’s house (which was also my house.) (Step-families are complicated, sorry.)

Anyway, my mother felt more comfortable sending me to my grandparents than leaving me home to my own devices during the day (she was social worker for Jewish Social Services at that time, which is ironic, because today she is United Methodist clergy person.) (No, she was not Jewish before.)

Also, I spent so much time with my grandparents because I have an aunt who is only three years older than I am. My grandmother believed in having children in “pairs”. (Anybody ever heard of this concept?) She had my mother and my Aunt K~ very close together. Five and six years later, she had my Aunt J~ and my Aunt S~A~. Eleven years later, unexpectedly, came my Aunt S~S~. Shortly thereafter, she lost the infant who would have been the other half S~S~’s “pair” (and my grandmother’s only boy). And then, when my mother was expecting me, she lost her last baby, S~S~’s last chance for a sibling pair, too young to know if the child were a boy, or a girl. When I was born a few months later, my grandmother declared me to be the other half of S~S~’s “pair”. S~S~ and I have always shared a bond that is closer than a normal aunt/niece, and my grandparents didn’t seem to mind having me around for weeks or months at a time. (Now that I am a parent myself, and have some empathy for the pain of those two losses they experienced, I wonder if having me around was comforting to them, or a reminder of the child they lost who would have been exactly the same age as me, or if they didn’t think about it.)

Across the street from my grandparent’s house was their house of my grandparents’ best friends, let’s call the Schmidt’s (not their real name) for ease of use. The Schmidts’ had a granddaughter, A~, who was exactly 18 months older than me and 18 months younger than S~S~. The three of us were thick as thieves during those summers. I couldn’t tell you, really, how we filled our days. I remember occasional trips to Greenfield Village and Henry Ford Musuem. Trips to the Belle Isle Zoo. Swimming trips to a beach, the name of which I probably never knew. But, mostly, we stayed at home. We watched General Hospital. We swung on my grandparent’s tire swing. We listened to Luther Vandross. (A lot.) (Which was pretty weird for three sheltered white girls.)

But mostly, we wanted to SPEND THE NIGHT. SLEEPOVERS. Left to our own devices we would have had sleepovers every night. S~S~ and I wanted A~ to spend the night with us, and A~ wanted us to spend the night with her. (I preferred the nights we spent at A~’s grandparents because we had a habit of lying on our backs beneath the gigantic attic exhaust fan that kept their house cool. We could sleep there and it felt like air conditioning. Unfortunately, we also took turns throwing things (mostly grapes) into the fan, to examine their condition when they came back down. Year’s later, the people who bought the Schmidts’ house after they moved away complained to my grandparents that were “raisins or something”, all over the attic. How little they knew…)

About half the time, our grandparents gave in and let us have sleepovers. And the other days, we would pester them. I remember bothering my grandfather with incessant pleas that he “DECIDE if we can HAVE A SLEEPOVER!!” And my grandfather would look up, from being bent over his dulcimer or his steel guitar or his drafting table, and say, “GIRLS! You are driving me PLUM CRAZY. If you make me decide RIGHT NOW, the answer will be NO.”

The reason for this whole long-winded trip down memory lane, is that I heard this exact same thing come out of my mouth the other day. Except it started “BOYS!” instead of “GIRLS!” and I was swimming in the pool and not playing an obscure folk instrument at the time.

Gabe and his little friends in the neighborhood want to have lots of sleepovers. And while I can’t think of any good reason to say “no” every time, it seems ridiculous to say “yes” every time. Hence the need for me to “think about it.” And the response from my son, “What’s there to think about??”

I’m not sure what there is to “think about”. I just know that I am not always comfortable knowing my child is sleeping across the street or next door. (Somedays, it’s great, but, not all the time.) And I am not always comfortable having three six year old boys in my guest room. Some days, I want my family just to myself. Like tonight. My boys (Husband and Gabe) are alone in the Family Room, watching their Tigers play. I’ve said “no” to a sleepover tonight. And it made me miss my childhood, just a little bit.


Blogger Christina said...

I totally go for the "pairs" idea. K and A are 19 months apart. R and Z will be exactly 2 years apart. It means they always have a playmate and that is a good thing. :-)

I was not huge on sleepovers as a kid because I often got homesick in the middle of the night. But your childhood sounds like a LOT of fun and great fodder for a coming of age novel or movie.

Monday, July 24, 2006 10:10:00 PM  
Blogger Nicki said...

I married into pairs without realizing it. Then my then-youngest son approached me and asked who would be our 5th child's pair. I had never considered it and we had a baby shortly thereafter :-) We are all paired up and now you know why we are adopting two and not just one :-)

I love your childhood memories! I wonder how many times we might have crossed paths as children and never knew it. My kids are also sleepover fools and we do the same thing. Although I did send them both off last summer for a week straight but there were extenuating circumstances :-)

Tuesday, July 25, 2006 8:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very pretty site! Keep working. thnx!

Saturday, August 12, 2006 4:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very pretty site! Keep working. thnx!

Thursday, August 17, 2006 9:34:00 AM  

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