When you’re a teen-age girl, slumber parties are all makeovers and junk food, Tiger Beat perusing and MASH-playing, giggling and crank-calling boys. There is no down side to any of this. When you’re the mom of the slumber-party thrower, however, sleepovers are all down side.
We’re not quite sure where Maddux picked up her fixation with slumber parties (as always, I will happily lay the blame at the feet of the princess-industrial complex), but at some point when she was 4, she began begging for a sleepover with James. Having shared many a hotel bed with my children, I wisely declined, but Chris blithely suggested to our daughter that James and I would both sleep in her room on Christmas Eve. (Never mind that Santa cannot deliver presents if he is wedged underneath a slobbering, sweaty 3-year-old who stayed up talking gibberish until he passed out, mid-sentence, at 12:30 a.m.)
Since then, there have been two mom-sanctioned sleepovers — and countless other instances in which, upon hearing giggling and heavy footsteps three hours past bedtime, we have discovered the children throwing themselves a rollicking impromptu slumber party. But, for Maddux, too much is never enough.
This past January, I picked my wee kindergartner up at school one afternoon and was not so much asked as informed, “Mommy, I’m having six girls over for a sleepover tonight.”
Oh, really? I quickly disabused my daughter of the notion that she could throw spur-of-the-moment overnight parties in what,
that afternoon, happened to be a pigsty nearing “Hoarders” proportions. Her six friends were very disappointed, as they had already received their invitations, but I figured their mothers would appreciate their not acquiring tetanus staying up late on a school night.
Instead, I promised that she would get to throw a non-overnight pajama party on a weekend (TBD) as a reward for meeting her reading goals. The weeks flew by, and “TBD” went from February to March to April to “sometime before school lets out.” Then it was time for school to let out. With one day left in the school year, Chris and I worked out a date when Nana could take the boys overnight so the wave of giggly, whispery, Disney-brand femininity invading our house would not be assailed by the usual horde of short-circuiting robots, brakeless tank engines and hungry tyrannosaurs. Instead of six girls, I made her invite eight so as not to exclude anyone in her class. Luckily, only five could make it.
On Friday, the long-awaited girlfest finally happened. According to the little girls’ PJ-party postmortem, it was all pillows and stuffed kittens and pizza and cupcakes and swooning over the hero from “Tangled,” who was roundly deemed “nice and handsome.” In reality, the girls spent approximately 15 minutes playing happily in Maddux’ room, 10 minutes watching the movie and consuming popcorn, 5 minutes getting manicures and promptly threatening the white couches with dripping Technicolor nails, 5 minutes eating pizza, 30 seconds decorating and eating cupcakes, and two hours, 29 minutes and 30 seconds engaged in school-age girl-on-girl emotional warfare.
Actual quotes from the party:
“Give me your unicorn — or I swear I will never speak to you again.”
“You can’t just boss people around.” (Said in bossiest voice possible.)
“Just because she’s being horrible doesn’t mean you should be horrible back.”
“It’s not fair for you to have two glowsticks!” (Said as someone picked up a stray glowstick while holding her own glowstick.)
“Seriously. If you don’t give me that unicorn, you will not exist to me.”
And just like that, the usual horde of berserk tyrannosaurs didn’t seem so bad. I swigged back some Coke, mediated disputes over fairy wings, magic wands and stuffed unicorns, and agonizingly waited for the hours and minutes to tick by. (A note: Never, under any circumstances, schedule a children’s party to last longer than two hours. Three and a half hours, just FYI, not only will drive you insane, but is an amount of time only an already-insane person would consider when planning a party for 6-year-old girls. Lesson learned.)
After the unicorn-related emotional blackmail, bossiness and condescending judgment of others’ behavior on the part of all six girls, I was worried that the gang of friends who entered the house three-and-a-half hours earlier would leave the party sworn enemies. But that’s the thing about girls. We are eternal optimists. We let kids drown us in saliva on Christmas Eve. We plan overlong parties. And when we have overly dramatic disputes with our BFFs, all we remember afterward is the cupcakes and unicorns and our mutual appreciation for the handsome cinematic hero.
To my undying shock, not only did Maddux pronounce this gong show from the bowels of Hades “the best night ever,” but apparently all her friends went home and chattered happily away about the party all weekend, leaving out entirely any and all tales of unicorn rustling or glowstick misappropriation.
And then, as I laid in bed afterward — thoroughly exhausted both physically and emotionally — and looked back on my childhood sleepovers with fresh Mom eyes, I remembered that it wasn’t all MASH and makeovers. There were disputes over how some girlfriends treated other girlfriends. There were arguments over clothes, boys and whether to play Truth or Dare or be a stupid weenie and go to sleep. And, of course, there was the fateful sleepover when I was 7 and had to alert my parents to the existence of a clothing fire.
Yes, come to think of it, I believe we’ll be doing these daytime pajama things for quite awhile longer.