After all, five years earlier when my eldest daughter turned twelve, I made a solemn vow to never host a slumber party again. Ever. Never ever, ever, ever, again . . . in my life. Ever.
Yet here I was agreeing, and I didn’t know why. Maybe it was the constant guilt I feel towards my overlooked youngest child or perhaps that second glass of Cabernet muddled my thinking. (Funny, I can’t shake the feeling that my devious child was lying in wait.)
Regardless, there was no turning back. Before I could even put a cork in the bottle, that girl had the E-vites written and sent. It only then dawned on me that this party was premature. Her older sister got to have a slumber party when she turned twelve. My youngest was only turning ten. That’s it, no more wine for me.
When the fateful day arrived I knew from experience that our guests would be dropped off at warp speed. Apparently the slumber party house has all the appeal of a hospital quarantine zone.
Fully prepared for the speedy drop, I decided to have a little fun. As each mother repeated the standard joke, “You’re a brave woman,” I would reply, “Oh, don’t worry about me. I’m just going to pop a couple of valiums and head for bed.” I’d say it with only a hint of a smile to which they’d laugh nervously, not quite sure if I was kidding or not. But they still left.
Just like I did for my first slumber party, I sent my husband away. At least one of us could get a night’s sleep, and I figured I could cash in on it later. My firstborn skeedaddled to a friend’s house. Only my fourteen-year-old daughter was daring enough to stay behind.
Five years earlier I typed up a two-page schedule for my older daughter’s party that rivaled in detail a military invasion. Nothing was left to chance. I had things planned to the minute. Unfortunately, after only forty-five minutes the kids had zipped through all of my games and activities and reached the bottom of page two. Defeated, I threw the schedule in the trash and retreated to a corner where I sat shaking throughout most of the night.
This time, with the addition of five more years of parenting under my belt, I took another tack: I did nothing! While the girls swam in the pool, I sat in a chair on the patio with my feet up, and leisurely browsed through a home decorating magazine.
Ah, the benefit of age and wisdom.
But while I was taking note of clever room-freshening tips, I couldn’t help but overhear a conspiracy in the works. “Hey, you know what’s really fun to do? We go sneak out to the front yard and then jump out when the pizza guy comes. Then he’ll drop the boxes on the ground!”
Ha, ha. That does sound like fun. Silly kids.
No! Wait, that’s our dinner he’d be dropping. “Girls! Girls! No! Get back in the pool this instant! We are not scaring the pizza man!”
Pizza tragedy averted, dinner and juice pouches consumed, the girls put on their jammies and sat down to watch a scary movie. They got ready for bed without me even asking! But then I noticed that it was only seven-thirty. 7:30PM. This was going to be a long night indeed.
When the movie ended at nine, my fear that I would have to come up with some kind of entertainment was cast aside. These girls made their own fun. They played softball with balloons. They made silly videos with one of their smart phone apps. They even set up a dominoes train. Who knew we even had dominoes?
It seemed that the less involved I was, the more fun they had, and frankly, the more I got to learn about the girls’ parents, “My mom always talks about being in high school and all the boys she dated.”
Oh really? Tell me more.
Then, for some reason the girls started singing Christmas Carols, “He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows when you’re awake.”
Which led to this startling revelation by one of them, “Eww, that’s so creepy. Have you ever thought about that line before – He sees you when’ you’re sleeping? But I guess it’s cool for little kids to sing, cause they don’t know about stalking yet.”
What? You kids are little kids! When did you become experts on stalking?
As the eleven o-clock hour approached, I resisted the urge to tell them to get to bed. I remembered that five years earlier, I spent hours telling the kids to settle down. Every fifteen minutes I would reprimand them for any voice above a whisper. Finally they fell asleep, but it wasn’t until one o’clock in the morning!
This time, I let the kids burn off their ice cream sundae energy at full volume, and didn’t insist they lie down until past midnight. Then one by one, their voices disappeared into the night. Finally there was total quiet. I looked at the clock. It was 1:00 A.M.
In the morning I marveled at how much easier this party had been compared to the previous one that I threw. Maybe because the kids were a little younger and still interested in playing together instead of talking about boys, giggling about boys, making crank calls to boys. Or maybe because I simply relaxed and got to enjoy watching my child have fun with her friends. I guess I’m okay having my dinner wine afterall.
“That wasn’t so bad,” I foolishly remarked to my middle daughter, who got more sleep than anyone else in the house.
“No, of course it wasn’t. You know Mom, I never got to have a slumber party,” she said, arms crossed.
“Really? Are you sure? But aren’t you too old to have one now?”
She shook her head.