Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Happy Birthday, Erika!

This weekend, we celebrated Erika's birthday with a slumber party for eight of her closest friends.

Which did raise the chaos level in the house, but not as much as I imagine it would in other homes.

Overall, the girls had a great time. We took them all, along with Erika's siblings and cousins, to the Build-A-Bear Workshop, where they made adorable stuffed animals (although it was tough to convince Aaron to take a floppy, un-stuffed version of the bear he had picked out - he wanted the nice, plump, finished bear that was on display). Then, we came home, ordered pizza, and set the kids up with fabric paint, paint markers, and plain white bear-sized t-shirts to decorate. (Note to anyone considering such an activity: I highly recommend fabric markers over paint. Much less messy.) This was followed by the traditional Carvel ice-cream cake and a showing of the recently released, straight-to-video, instant classic, "Space Buddies."

So far, so good.

I didn't expect that getting nine girls to fall asleep would be easy. I was prepared for giggling, chatting, pillow fights, frequent trips to the bathroom, etc. What I wasn't prepared for was half the girls sobbing - including Erika, who made a speech about how this was "the worst night of her life," and how she was "never having a slumber party again, and if [she] does, [she] might invite completely different people."

The problem was that, although a couple of the girls did want to stay up and talk, by 10:30 most of them - including Erika - wanted to go to sleep. And every time one was moved to make a speech about why everyone needed to be quiet, another one would yell at her to be quiet, until things started to get ugly.

The result of this was a series of trips up to my room by a contingent of girls, including Erika, who actually told me the next day that she wished I had been "stricter" with them - which really surprised me. I had tried so hard to treat her and her friends like "big kids." (And I'm not even sure why I put that in quotes, because I do think of Erika as a big kid.) Matty had asked Andy and me if one of us was going to sleep down in the basement with the girls, and I had dismissed the idea utterly. But later, when things calmed down enough for me to go to sleep myself, I couldn't help wondering if my decision to let the girls resolve their problems themselves had resulted in Erika being traumatized for life, or at the very least, never speaking to one or two of her closest friends ever again.

Not to worry: by the next morning, they were all friends again. Literally, it was as if no unkind words were ever said. When I told one of the girls' mothers what had happened, and hypothesized that perhaps eight was too young for a slumber party, she shrugged it off. "Nah," she, also mother to a ten-year-old, said. "That happens at every slumber party."

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