Fast forward, er, a bunch of years. As soon as I had kids of my own, I sought out the library in our town for books, story time, sing-a-longs and every other bit of magic libraries offer. To this day, my kids love the library, for various reasons, including the after school clubs. My middle-schooler has been part of an Anime/Gaming club this year, and it's a great way for him to socialize with friends who have already moved up to the high school. Once a year, the library holds a lock-in: an overnight event open only to members of the club. This year, Jacob got to participate.
With Jacob's permission I offered to chaperon if necessary, and the staff took me up on it. I'm not sure who was more excited: me or Jacob. This past Friday, we showed up as the library was closing, sleeping bags, pillows and toothbrushes in hand, for our first ever library sleepover.
First off, it should be noted that, in this particular instance, the very definitions of 'library' and 'sleepover' go right out the window. This is because:
1) I am fairly confident the library walls have never contained the volumes it did that night (I'm talking audio, not literary or crowds). There were 15 of us: two adults, four teenage boys and nine teenage girls. If my calculations are correct, 9TeenG + 4TeenB (pizza + Doritos + Pepsi) = energy + volume levels200. When glow sticks are factored in, the exponent doubles.
2) Very little sleeping occurred. Apparently, teenage brains closely resemble those of bats in that they are most active at night and in the wee morning hours. As a result, things didn't really get rolling until about 10pm (note: this is my usual bedtime).
Despite appearances, teenagers are really just little kids in adult bodies. Even though I expected everyone to play video games, watch movies and text all night, none of that happened.
When the energy got high, there was a library-wide scavenger hunt, a multi-round game of hide-and-seek and a 100+ glow stick fight. And when it slowed down, there were lanyards and friendship bracelets, cookies and books, card games and nail polish, music and lots of conversation. One student even pulled out his favorite kiddie books from the Children's Room: Goodnight Moon, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish and a stack of others. He read them all, out loud, and had an attentive audience.
I was able to stay awake until about 2:15, then dozed for another hour until it was finally 'lights out'. With the girls in one section of the library, the boys in another and the librarian and me in the middle, I slept like a cat, rousing whenever I heard the slightest sound. By 6:15am, kids were headed back and forth to the bathrooms, and it was time for breakfast.
Despite having too much junk food and not enough sleep, it was a great night, even for me. I got some reading done, some writing, and learned a few things from each kid I spoke with. Jacob loved it too. He had hours of play time with his closest friends, with no little brother or bedtime to interrupt the fun. Mom was there but somehow managed to not embarrass him. And best of all, a girl he's liked for a while asked him out, and everyone applauded.
(PS: he said 'yes'.)
On the way home, I asked Jacob if he would do it again next year. Through his yawns, he said his only complaint is that he has to wait a whole year. Would I do it again? Yes, especially if the kids are as terrific as the ones from this year. Next time, I may even get in on the glow stick fight.