I suffered through it two years ago.
After swearing I’d never, ever do it again, I endured the agony 365 days later.
And a familiar refrain echoes in the halls of our small house as we approach my boys’ 11th birthday, their pleas for just one more slumber party. Even though they clearly remember me groggily swearing NEVER AGAIN as they came down from their doughnut highs last year. And the year before.
How am I going to stop the cycle?
For their 9th birthday, I let them invite six friends to spend the night. I got the World’s Most Adorable Cake in the Entire World Ever and some pizza and the nine boys ran amok and only one of them cried in the middle of the night for his mom. My heart. It was after I made the doughnut run the next morning on mere minutes of sleep (I may exaggerate, slightly) while the children were passed out, draped over various pieces of furniture with video game controllers slipping from their fingers, pizza crusts and chips ground into the sofa, and Capri Sun packets littering the floor, that I made the solemn oath that next year we’d have a nice, calm party during the day at, like, McDonald’s or something. Those were great, eh? Weren’t the eighties awesome?
And then ten rolled around and MAH BAYBEEZZZ were DOUBLE DIGITS and it was SO SPECIAL and how could I not give them EVERYTHING THEIR ANGELIC HEARTS desired? I mean, like childbirth, the actual horrific details of the previous slumber party had escaped my memory (and I had a scheduled c-section anyway, so it really was no biggie, never felt a contraction or anything) and so I said, “of course, my sweet loves, you may have another slumber party, goodness only knows what Mommy was thinking last December when her head spun in a circle and she screamed in a voice straight from a horror film NEVER AGAIN, you may of course have a slumber party, but this time you can only invite 5 friends because I seem to recall the floor of your rather small room was quite packed with sleeping bags that no one used anyway, okay?”
“Sure, Mama, that’s fine,” they chorused, like a trio of angels (it’s been almost a year so again, my memory might be fuzzy) and we had the party, and this time I enlisted the help of two girlfriends (one being the mom of one of the guests) and we (I can’t believe we actually did this) brought them to the bonfire on the levee just a few blocks from our house, and somehow we kept track of all eight children, and they flossed in front of the fire (or whatever it was kids were doing in December 2017) and were generally well-behaved even though this time I made the cookie cake, so it was more like The Cake Most Likely To Get on Nailed It but whatever, my heart was in the right place. And no one caught on fire.
And no one cried in the middle of the night! And one kid did not go to sleep at all even though, of course, they all swore they were all going to stay up all night, but that one holdout passed out on the sofa about 15 minutes before his dad came to get him, so he had to carry him off over his shoulder, which was pretty cute.
So that brings us back to today.
And so you’re thinking, well, last year, everyone survived a bonfire and a kind of ugly cake and you even got canvases and pastels so there would be an activity (okay, that lasted about five minutes but at least it was five fewer minutes of screen time) so why not? Because this year they play soccer, is the problem. Do you know how many kids play soccer every day at recess? A LOT. So do you know how many BESTEST FRIENDS they want to invite?
TWELVE. TWELVE KIDS. Lest we forget I birthed a litter of three little babies, so that makes FIFTEEN CHILDREN IN A VERY SMALL HOUSE.
This is the part I hate. I hate saying “no, you can’t invite this Very Nice Child whose parents I really like, and who will see pictures of your party on social media.” Or “sorry, I know he’s one of your best friends, you shouldn’t have made new friends this year! STOP MAKING NEW FRIENDS!” So what do I do? It’s one night. They don’t sleep anyway. I don’t sleep anyway. Let’s FILL THE WHOLE HOUSE. Why stop at a dozen? Let’s make it 20! Invite the whole soccer team! No, invite the whole fifth grade! (Boys only, because I have to draw the line somewhere.)