Friday, 23 December 2016

Some thoughts about sleepovers.

The IKEA stores are laid out in such a way that you have to walk through the whole store, following their nicely signalled walkway through the various display sections, stopping to place an order for major pieces of furnitures, writing down the code for large items you can collect on your way out and build when you get home, and picking up small items of home decor, kitchenware, bedding and so on. Eventually you go through the checkout and discover you have spent far more than you ever intended. And then there is the mini-shop that sells Swedish foodstuff, just to tempt you to spend a little more before you head for the carpark. Clever marketing!

The furniture display areas are set up to look like bedrooms and small studio flats. When our grandchildren were smaller they would disappear into these tiny house set-ups and begin some kind of imaginative game. My daughter and I would wander that section of the store hunting for them, feeling foolish at having mislaid two children. Nowadays they mostly admire certain layouts and declare that they want their rooms remodelling to look like that. Occasionally they fantasise about spending the night there. In fact I am pretty sure that I read a novel in which someone lived for a while in an IKEA store.

And now it seems that people have actually been doing that. Well, not actually living in the store but organising sleepovers for groups of friends. In August two teenagers in Belgium hid in wardrobes and came out after the store closed to film their fun and games and then post the video on youtube. Their video was viewed 1.7 million times and may well have provoked copy-cat sleepovers as there have been at least ten reported incidents in the past year in the United States, Canada, Britain, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Japan, Australia and Poland. Even though the store has been known to organise its own official "sleepovers", no doubt good promotional material, they are warming pranksters not to continue with this trend. It could be dangerous and the company might prosecute eventually!!!

I have never fully understood parents who allow their quite young children, 7 (or younger) to 11 years old, to have sleepover parties where around eight children end up (usually not) sleeping in the same room. The net result is parents who have their evening spoilt and their night's sleep seriously disrupted, and cranky, overtired children the next morning. Seriously a lose-lose situation.

Maybe the parents are suffering from nostalgia for something they never had. I blame all those stories you used to find in children's comics, stories about life in a boarding school, where they had secret societies organised midnight feasts in between solving mysteries and punishing bullies.

 No, sleepovers should be postponed until you are in your late teens / early twenties, ready to sit up all night discussing the problems of modern life and setting the world to rights!

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