The Divorced Dad’s Guide to Sleepovers

No, we are not talking about when your 10-year old invites 12 of his friends from school to sleep on your living room floor after demolishing half of the first floor with boy stickiness and slime.

Instead, you are living alone in the Divorce Shack. You are seeing a divorced woman. Let’s call her Sylvia. Sylvia has teenage children and she shares custody of them with her ex-husband, whom we will call Jonathan. She would prefer not to be around when Jonathan arrives to pick up their children, so on those evenings she stays with you at the Divorce Shack.

The Divorced Dad (left), Thing 1 (center), and Thing 2. No, not really.

Enter Thing 1

Enter Thing 1, your son who attends a college that is a three-hour drive away, and Thing 2, your 16-year old daughter. They live with your ex-wife, whom we will call Guinevere.

Thing 1 decides to spend the summer living with you in the Divorce Shack. “I can’t deal with mom and Nathan,” he says, referring to his stepfather.

Sylvia is less than delighted about shtupping you under the same roof as Thing 1, but she likes you and she likes Thing 1, so she deals with it. Thing 1 appears to be cool with occasionally sharing the Divorce Shack with Sylvia.

Then one evening Thing 1 shows up at the Divorce Shack with a girl, actually a women who looks to be, hmmm, maybe 22 years old. You don’t really catch her name when he introduces you – her name might be June or it might be Jane. Sylvia is not present. Thing 1 acts as though nothing is odd. You spend the next couple of hours listening to…well, you get it.

What Do You Say to Thing 1 in the Morning?

First, you treat Jane/June like a human being, even though everything about her screams “skank.” Once Jane/June has left the premises, you sit Thing 1 down and say the following, “Thing 1, I need to tell you something in a loving fashion. This is my house and I set the rules. If you are going to invite guests here, you must ask my permission. No surprise parties, no surprise sleepovers.”

Thing 1 may response, “But mom and Nathan are cool with it.”

Your response: “Then invite your friends to mom and Nathan’s house.”

Thing 1 may respond, “But you have Sylvia over.”

Your response: “And your point is?”

Thing 1 may respond, “It’s not fair.”

Your response: “Life is not fair, and let me repeat: this is my house and I set the rules. If you do not like it, you can go to your mother and Nathan’s house. Or you can get a room somewhere. I don’t like surprises in my house, so do not surprise me.”

Thing 1 may respond, “Don’t be a hypocrite, dad.”

Your response: “Sylvia and I are consenting adults. Just because you are legally an adult does not mean that you are grown up. When I was your age, quite frankly, I was an idiot. I hated living under the same roof with my father and all his rules.”

Thing 2 may respond, “So what did you do?”

Your response: “I moved out.”

Thing 1 may seethe and decide to bring the girls he hooks up with to his mother and Nathan’s house. You do not change your mind. Eventually, he gets a steady girlfriend who is not a skank. Eventually, he will thank you.

Enter Thing 2

Thing 2 attends the local high school. She has a boyfriend, whom we’ll refer to as The Dipshit. The Dipshit is 18-years old and a senior at Thing 2’s school .You are not fond of The Dipshit, and he cannot even look you in the eye. The Dipshit reminds you of every 13-year old boy you have ever pegged as a loser.

Thing 2 also lives with her mother, but she spends the occasional Friday or Saturday at the Divorce Shack. “I can’t deal with mom and Nathan,” she says on those evenings. On these evenings, you make a pizza and watch a Netflix movie and listen to her complain about how loudly Nathan snores. If Sylvia is staying over, she will make chicken cacciatore and the three of you might go out for ice cream. Sweet Jesus are you boring and wholesome. You think that’s part of the appeal for Thing 2.

One Saturday afternoon, Thing 2 asks if she can bring The Dipshit to the Divorce Shack for dinner. It will be just the three of you – Sylvia and her children are out of state visiting her sister in Boston. “Sure,” you respond.

You make pepperoni pizza, which is Thing 2’s favorite. When she and The Dipshit show up for dinner, he remarks, “I’m vegetarian.”

What Do You Say to The Dipshit and Thing 2?

First, to Thing 2 you say, “Thing 2, I need to tell you something in a loving fashion. Had you told me that this young man is a vegetarian, I would not have created this awkward situation. Think ahead about these things.”

Thing 2 may respond, “Oh yeah, I forgot.”

Your response: “No shit, Sherlock.”

You both laugh.

Second, to The Dipshit you say, “Sorry about the mix-up, young man. Let’s go to that new Indian restaurant on Main Street.”

The Dipshit may nod his head, but you are already ignoring him and grabbing the keys to the car.

Enter The Dipshit

While The Dipshit is in the restroom at the Indian restaurant on Main Street, Thing 2 asks, “Can he stay over with me tonight?”

You are torn. She is being more polite and thoughtful than her older brother. Also, no way are you waking up in the morning under the same room as The Dipshit.

Your response: “No.”

Thing 2 may respond, “But mom and Nathan let him stay over with me.”

Your response: “Half of me thinks you are lying and the other half is going to remind you that, if you two are engaging in sexual activity, he is guilty of statutory rape in this state.”

Thing 2, ignoring your last remark, may respond, “But you let Sylvia stay over.”

Your response: “What goes on between me and Sylvia is none of your business.”

Thing 2 may respond, “Don’t be a hypocrite, dad.”

Your response: “Sylvia and I are consenting adults. You may think you are grown up and can make your own decisions, but I remember being 16 years old. I was an idiot and, quite frankly, so are you for dating such a loser.”

Thing 2 may respond, “I hate you!”

Your response: “What are you having for dessert?”

Thing 2 may seethe and decide to spend the night at her mother and Nathan’s house. You do not change your mind. Eventually, she will dump The Dipshit. Eventually, she will thank you.

About Stephen Dedalus, Jr.

I am trying to awaken from the history of my ancestor's nightmare to comment on my Holy Trinity of Interests: art, literature, and music. Oh, and thoughts on dysfunctional families, which is to say families.
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