It’s thirty minutes into the party and I’m in trouble. I text Chaz frantically: One crying, three fighting, total chaos. Come home. NOW.
It’s the first time we’re hosted a big slumber party. Never one to dip our toes in the water, we dive in the deep end and invite ten 8-year-old boys to spend the night. Why not? What could possibly go wrong? Famous last words? By Custer?
In agreeing to the plan, I thought how fun a slumber party would be both for the boys spending the night and for the parents free of responsibilities (or at least one kid down). Plans, shmans. Where is Chaz?!
My husband arrives home just as the smoke from the burning pizza cheese begins to collect at the ceiling.
“Everything under control?” he asks. (He’s enjoying this. He’s also the one who openly questioned my sanity when I first broached the idea of a sleepover.) I throw open the windows to let the smoke escape before setting off the alarm. Crisis averted.
“Absolutely,” I answer before sneaking back into the kitchen to wipe my sweaty forehead with a dishtowel.
Dinner goes without a hitch. Then it’s baseball in the yard before an impromptu game of catch the dog. Everyone safely back inside (dogs included), we head to the backyard for s’mores. Fire and boys, another of the night’s great ideas.
Next it’s a double feature of The Lorax and Despicable Me, popcorn, chips and drinks. We pile a half-dozen pillows on the hardwood floors and toss down some quilts.
“Settle down, boys,” we say. I congratulate myself on making it an hour closer to bedtime. Chaz and I lean into the couch cushions to watch Dr. Seuss along with the boys and wait for them to nod off. And wait.
Did I mention these are 8-year-old boys? There’s no nodding. No settling. Two hours later, we send them to the basement with half-hearted instructions to brush their teeth.
“But I didn’t back a toothbrush,” one tells me.
“Brush them twice when you get home,” I tell him.
“They’re tired now, right?” I ask Chaz, fighting to keep my eyes open after a long week and six hours of boy fun.
“Sure,” he grins.
Pairs of boys march up the stairs every five minutes for the next hour. Someone’s laughing. Another’s making farting noises. There’s something in the bathroom, can we come check? At one a.m. I grab a pillow to make camp on the basement floor. I’m the protector, the shh-er, the mom.
“Boys,” I plead. “Sleep? Do you miss it?”
By two a.m., all boys snore softly. A tangle of boy limps wrap around each other in a sweet, innocent embrace of childhood friendship. Lucky and Spot burrow into the spaces between flung arms and tucked legs.
I’d like to say everyone had a restful night. But I’d be lying. Three hours later, our youngest creeps down the stairs and reignites the party by waking the boys. All the boys.
I blindly crawl up the stairs to find Chaz asleep on the family room couch.
“They’re up,” I say.
“How? They just went to sleep.”
So, friends, your night off? How was it?