When I saw all the stuffies lined up along the couch, any worry I had about having a sleepover with half a dozen 9 yr old boys disappeared. Sure, these kids acted tough, but inside they were still little boys. Every single one of them had brought a blanket and a stuffy of some sort, each one.

Everything was going to be okay.

Collection of stuffies brought to the sleepover
Collection of stuffies brought to the sleepover

Zacharie turned 9 at the end of May and asked to have a sleepover for his birthday party this year. Sounded reasonable, to us, but at the same time this was a level up, a new thing for many of his friends – and their parents.

The first sleepover. Duh duh duh.

Ours is not a community school, the student body is drawn from all over Calgary. We small talk with the parents in the hallway at pick up and drop off, but our boys, for the most part, aren’t on the same teams, in the same activities, hanging out with each other outside school hours. We ‘know’ each other, but we don’t.

So when I sent out the email, I made sure parents felt comfortable to come in, see the place, hang out and small talk, and ‘get to know us,’ as they dropped off their son for the night.

A few lingered for a few minutes, before nervously leaving. BTW, this is why WE held the party. We didn’t want to be the one breaking the barrier by dropping our son off with someone else, we wanted the first sleepover to be ours so we could see how it all goes down.

You know, like the parents who hold the house parties where teens can drink so they can supervise and make it safe. A friend had told a story online about a 9 yr old sleepover where the boy knew where dad kept his iPad. The boy also knew the passcode, and knew that his dad watched porn and how to find it. After everyone was asleep, he got the tablet and showed his friends.

I don’t want to hear those stories second or third hand, so we held the party. A half dozen 9 year old boys watching Ant-Man, eating pizza, playing Ghostbusters in the backyard, and just being 9 year old boys for a night should be easy to handle, right?

For a while it was awesome. We fed them pizza, tossed them in the basement and turned on the movie. For half an hour my wife chilled on the patio upstairs.

Backyard chilling while they partied in the basement
Backyard chilling while they partied in the basement

And then the quiet made us nervous so we went inside to find them … gasp .. watching the movie.


“This isn’t hard at all,” we smugly thought to ourselves. The lineup of stuffies on the couch is really what set my heart at ease. Sure, they were bragging about watching Deadpool and told the ones with tighter reined parents (raises hand) all about how Deadpool likes taking pictures of boobs.

“It’s all about sex!,” my 6 year old chimed in.

But they had the stuffies. And the blankets. A couple of the kids got wild at bedtime keeping everyone else up way too late. They came upstairs, ratted out their friends, and we tried to get everyone to settle. As you can expect, bedtime is the biggest hurdle to climb with kids at a sleepover. 6 of them in the basement meant it creeped well past 10 before everything quieted down for good.

sleepover breakfast

The next morning, they all piled upstairs for french toast, and more stories about LEGO and Superheros. By 9am all the parents had come and picked up their weary boys, collecting sleeping bags, pyjamas, and those adorable stuffies.

It wasn’t that hard. The sleepover went well. I’m glad we had it. I’m glad the other parents trusted us to have it. And I was so glad to see those stuffies all in a row. Our kids act tough, but they’re still kids. They’re growing up so fast, but peel back the onion layers and you’ll find those little boys still deep inside.

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