Do you remember a while back when I decided that I wasn’t going to let my children have any sleepovers until they were, I dunno, TWENTY? Actually, I think I’ve decided this MULTIPLE times, on account of sleepovers are a tool of the devil. Children are lured in by promises of extra-big fun—surely far huger than a normal playdate, because there’s a decent chance of a sleepover involving bacon—and then something tragic inevitably happens.
You doubt? Allow me to remind you of Exhibit A. Sure, that was years ago, but the point is that SLEEPOVERS ARE A TOOL OF THE DEVIL. I know I said that already, but it’s totally true. And I’ve been pretty good at avoiding them, so far, but then my daughter went and befriended a kid who lives about an hour away.
And suddenly a sleepover sounded less like “tool of the devil” and more like “much-desired playdate for the children and an evening out for us grown-ups.”
See, it went like this: Nightingale is Chickadee’s BFF, and we’d had her over to the house after school a couple of times, and her mom kept mentioning the possibility of a sleepover, but no plans were ever made. And then we got an official invitation, one that was so official it suggested that Monkey come, too, to play with Nightingale’s little brother (who’s about the same age).
By this time, we’d met both parents, it was obvious that all the kids played together really well, and so I caved. Yes! Sure! Go have a sleepover, why not?
Now, the unusual circumstances of going to school about an hour from where they actually live (which is a whole ‘nother story, and not entirely relevant, I suppose) has made sleepovers a way of life for this family, it seems. I think the parents must possess a level of patience I’m unlikely to achieve in this incarnation. Either that, or they’re INSANE. Because in addition to my two kids? They’d also packed up FOUR OTHERS. Eight children between eight and ten, running amok for twenty-four hours.
Needless to say, my kids had a blast. When we drove out there after church yesterday to bring them home, they all but asked if maybe this other family could just adopt them. Apparently they’d passed the time frolicking in a nearby mud pit and/or engaging in gender wars. Good times.
I had packed each child a couple of sets of clothes, per the instructions I was given. I knew they were going to be out in the mud, you see. But when we arrived yesterday, Chickadee was dressed entirely in clothes of Nightingale’s, and Monkey was wearing the outfit he’d worn the day before. Hmmmm.
Me: Chickie, why are you wearing Nightingale’s clothes?
Her: Mine were dirty. Her mom gave me these to wear.
Me: ALL of yours were dirty?
Her: Yeah, I guess.
Me: Monkey, why are you wearing your clothes from yesterday?
Him: They were on top.
Me: They were… wait, did you SLEEP in those clothes?
Him: No, I wore pajamas.
Me: Oh, okay. Good. So last night you took those off and put on pajamas?
Me: Okay, and what did you do with those clothes, then?
Him: I put them in my bag!
Me: Ah, I see. So this morning—
Him: —they were on top, so I put them on!
A peek inside their bags revealed that Monkey hadn’t disturbed a thing (save for taking out his jammies and stuffed puppy for bedtime, I guess), and Chickadee had changed her clothes once, gotten filthy, and then forgotten she had another change of clothes in there and instead opted for borrowed clothing.
All of which is fine, of course. The fact that Chickadee borrowed a WHITE shirt and promptly spilled hot chocolate all over herself is JUST A BONUS. (The shirt has been washed three times, now. I’ll give it one more try before I return it.)
What is LESS fine is that the crying started before we even left their house to come back home. First Monkey began unraveling over… something… I’m not sure what. The other boys weren’t WAITING for him! He had NOT knocked that item off the counter! And was it time to go ALREADY? Why, they’d had at least five hours of sleep, you know, and would be just fine playing just a little bit longer, you know.
We’d been in the car approximately six minutes when the squabbling reached a volume that caused Otto to declare “EVERYONE STOP TALKING. WE ARE DRIVING HOME IN SILENCE.”
There was some grumbling, and then Chickadee read a book while Monkey… fell asleep.
Back home, life was tragic. It was tragic that I asked them to take their bags upstairs. It was tragic when I told them we’d need to work on their science projects as much as possible because we have a busy week. It was EXTRA TRAGIC that Otto and I had spent some of our precious free time while they were gone going to the outlets and buying Chickadee some clothes that aren’t too small for her—I know, it doesn’t sound tragic, but hear it through—because that meant that I needed her to TRY THINGS ON and allow me to remove things that are too small from her dresser.
(Yes, it’s true. If you’re about to turn 10, I may use all of my ill-gotten despotic power to suggest that you don’t really need to hang on to those size 6X shorts. GO FIGURE.)
I put them both to bed last night at 7:00, and neither of them complained, possibly because they were too tired to argue. This morning they were bleary and grumpy and I tried to remember why I thought a sleepover would be okay. Sure, you get 24 hours of freedom… but is it worth the following 48 hours of sleep deprivation hangover that they come home with?
Next time, I should probably make sure I spend the time they’re gone drinking heavily, so that I’m ready when they get back.