Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Crazy Nights By Various Kinsellas

‘Crazy Night’ was born back in the late 1950’s. Mom (Aunt CB) decided that there were too many ‘no’s in a child’s world and she was tired of always being the disciplinarian! Thus, an occasional night when the rules were relaxed.

• Eat anything you want

• Sleep anywhere you wish

• Stay up as long as you desire

The Kinsella Kids, with only Chris missing. Surely these angels would not be problem to babysit?!

It was a given that you had to stay in the house and it could not be held on a school night.

Mom had no idea how inventive her children were! The area of wonder which most captured them was the sleep one. They tried the bath tub, the stair landing, underneath the dining room table, the cellar clothes chute, the attic closet and tried to find enough space behind the linen closet drawers but one couldn’t really lie down there.

Food was no challenge--they’d always dreamt up crazy combinations for sandwiches.

Staying up late wasn’t a challenge—they’d start a game of monopoly and time stood still.

It wasn’t long before ‘Crazy Night’ became the most popular night in the neighborhood. Everyone wanted to be invited. One had to be restrictive, though, because arguing, fighting, any disturbance of that sort and the whole freedom was rescinded. Another factor was Mom’s ability to ‘hang in’ through it! These only occurred every two to three months.

There were some famous ones, though. Tops went to the night the kids talked Aunt Florence, who was baby sitting, into allowing one. Great stamina and sacrifice were needed to last to the end and it never occurred to Florence that she couldn’t outlast these kids! The fact remains that she finally called it quits early in the morning and paid them to go to bed!

It was a marvelous idea, served as a very popular behavior boost and probably took a few years off of their parents’ lives. The proof of the pudding though will be shown by how many ‘Crazy Night’s’ these kids, now grown up, allow their own children!

And, now the Kinsella Children Weigh In:

Jim starts us off:

I honestly don't remember that many specific incidents from Crazy Night too well and I think it's partly because I was young (Chris and I didn't have these as we grew older) and partly because I still do it with my kids so these memories replace my own.

I remember wanting to sleep in the tub and trying it out but finding it was too uncomfortable so giving up on it after about ten minutes. One year I slept on the stairs on some boards I laid against them. When I actually fell asleep I fell to the bottom of the boards and actually slept at the foot of the stairs but it sounded WAY better to say I slept on the stairs. I remember many times making my own meal with Tom and Beth but this could be blending with the times we did it but they weren't specifically Crazy Nights. I do still recall the excitement of a Crazy Night however.

Because of this excitement, I decided we had to do it with our kids. I don't remember exactly when we started but Kelly was old enough to talk. After the first time we did it, Kelly asked if we could do it next weekend also. That's when we came up with the compromise that we would do it twice a year. Once during the winter and once over the summer (we do it on breaks so the kids can stay up late).

If you're interested, here are my family rules for Crazy Night:

1) Starts at dinner time (usually 5pm)

2) Kids make their own meal. In fact, since the main goal of Crazy Night is for the adults to have no work, the kids can't bug the adults for ANYTHING (e.g. "Can you make this?", "Can you get this?" etc. The proper response from an adult is "NO." If we CHOOSE to do something, like play a game with them, or even make a special dessert, that's legal however)

3) Kids can eat anything (as long as it's safe) and watch anything (as long as it's safe) they want that night

4) NO guests. This is a special night for our family only.

5) Kids can sleep anywhere they want (it's encouraged that crazy spots be chosen) and stay up as late as they want. Jill works it that by midnight they are encouraged to go to bed if they haven't already...she reasons that Crazy Night ends at midnight and now we're going into the next day.

Pat’s memories next:

For me, I do not remember that we could bring friends for the night.

I DO remember the Aunt Florence night. Someone will no doubt remember it in more detail, but I think she began with nickels and quarters and we finally agreed when she got out the dollar bills.

HOWEVER, and perhaps Mom never heard, I remember quite plainly that Beth and I (and maybe Tom) waited behind our bedroom door for a time, pretending to go to sleep (after all, we HAD been paid). Then, we opened our door and stepping OVER the sleeping Aunt Florence (trying to stand guard outside of our door), continued on with our Crazy Night! (poor Aunt Florence--as Mom said, she was almost the only person who would ever agree to give Mom a break and babysit us).

Beth continues:

I remembered sleeping under the dining room table (probably fun because more than one could do so, so you were there with others and gabbing and laughing until you fell asleep). But I also remembered one year we must have done it shortly after Christmas because I slept in one of my favorite gifts ever: you had gotten me a small cardboard house. I say small, but it was probably big enough for the child I was to stand up in. It was nothing elaborate inside, but the outside was painted to look like a real house and it had windows you could look out of and a door to go through. I loved it! But I imagine since it was cardboard it did not last too long.

Sue writes:

After a while, we seemed to develop a ritual. If it was cold out, Mom would build a fire in the fireplace and then sit on the sofa and start peeling apples. We would gather around so she could give us apple slices.

Crazy Night was not complete without peanut butter fudge. As I got older, Mom left the fudge cooking to me, which was probably a mistake because I still don't understand what "cook until it comes to a soft boil" means. Which is probably why we (as well as later, Alex) ate so much of it with spoons.

I remember trying out both sleeping in the bathtub and under the dining room table, but neither was very comfortable and I didn't last the whole night there.

I remember hours-long Risk games on the dining room table.

I don't think I ever had a formal "Crazy Night" with Alex, but then we didn't need one. Both of us are such night-owls that most nights probably qualified as crazy nights. Well, except the eating anything you want – we usually ate much healthier than that.

Tim’s memories:

It's funny that I have so many fond memories of crazy night in general but I have very few specific ones. I do remember Aunt Florence being over for the famous night that she paid us to go to sleep. I also remember trying out the bathtub as a bed but deciding very quickly that is wasn't going to work.

Tom continues:

I remember the Crazy Night with Aunt Florence, and although I don't remember her attempting to pay us off, I do seem to remember that you and Beth and I opened our door (the back bedroom toward the Kessler's) and stepped over her sleeping form to continue the fun.

I once tried to sleep on the steps -- vertically. I brought a pillow and blanket and tried to find some comfortable position with my feet first toward the downstairs hall and then when that didn't work, my head. But no position was comfortable. I was old enough to no longer fit length-wise on a step, and I guess the landing was boring, so I went elsewhere.

Once I remember sleeping under the dining room table. Not much of note; the carpeted floor was comfortable enough.

I remember that Dan slept in the bathtub once, so on one of the later Crazy Nights, I did that, too. At least for a while.

I think the best part of Crazy Nights was the anticipation. It was very fun in the middle of it, that's true, but looking forward to the next one, asking Mom & Dad (or Auntie Flo) to let us have another night without rules, that was the best part now that I think back on it.

As I read these memories, I realize that once again, Mom and Dad were providing their kids with stories they could share and talk about all their lives. ‘Crazy Nights’ were such special times for all of us 2846 Kinsellas, as were the ‘Reading Fifty Books’ and ‘Art History Contests’. Aunt Florence WAS the only brave babysitter to take our large family on, but notice she is immortalized in the telling of Crazy Nights.

Thank you Aunt Florence, Mom and Dad—Love you all!


Tom K. said...

Christine F. took a look at the current head picture and the picture with the Kinsella children seated. In the first picture I'm the little guy next to Sue. In the second, I'm the little guy behind and right of Sue in the red shirt. Christine's comment? "You look the same now as you did then."

I think it is a complement.

Tom K. said...

Pat, see the pictures on the mantel behind us? Any thoughts on who they are?

Pat said...


The big picture is a school picture of Beth. The little one in the bottom of her frame? Hard to see, perhaps David Lochner? I would guess that if we could SEE the pictures, we would know who they were!



MOM said...

Oh those Crazy nites! Exhausting but you kids needed to be able to DO your thing sometimes!! And I DID get tired of always being the disciplinator!!