‘Sleepovers’ With My 9-Year-Old Daughter

I just read a great pice in the Motherlode section of the NY Times.


When I was in high school in the late ’80s, I took a job baby-sitting for a single mother with a 9-year-old boy. I didn’t know the family well. The father was absent from the situation, and the mother appeared overwhelmed. The kid ran the show, and he got what he wanted by throwing fits, stomping his feet and pouting. The mother doted on her son, and spoke to him in a syrupy baby talk that made my skin crawl.

On my first day on the job, the mother took me on a tour of the house. When we got to her bedroom, the bed was unmade on both sides, and we stood there uncomfortably while I cringed at the thought that this rather unpleasant woman had not slept alone. After a moment of silence, the mother shrugged apologetically and fessed up: her sleeping companion was her son. Given that I was a teenager and felt I was an expert on child psychology, I quickly determined that the child’s behavioral problems were linked to the fact that he still slept with his mother.

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