For GoofGirl’s birthday, in yet another triumph of hope over experience, we allowed her to have a sleepover extravaganza. Three little girls came over that night and were joined by yet another the next morning. Although GoofBoy has – for his own devious reasons stuck around at his sister’s birthday parties, for this one he readily agreed to be elsewhere. One of GoofBoy believes that one of GoofGirl’s friends is trying to kill (and she is capable of doing so, the little ninja.)
The party went pretty well. I was very pleased that there was no factionalism amongst the girls (a rare thing when more then two are together.) Sure, they occasionally got bored and couldn’t think of things to do – but the worked through that, sometimes with some parental intervention. On the downside we had as many as five sugar-primed little girls bouncing around our house. Parental interventions quickly turned kinetic. They discussed leaving the house in order to hunt down my son – GoofGirl was more then willing to reveal his undisclosed location. But instead the little monsters turned on me – forcing me to give horseback rides, be an indoor jungle-gym, and provide a target in the pillow wars.
It was exhausting.
But my fatigue was made worse because one little Girl hadn’t slept (coincidentally, this is the little Girl who has been plotting to kill GoofBoy). Her parents had warned us that this was possible, but I thought she’d drop from exhaustion from mayhem with her friends. But when everyone else crashed after the movie, this one insisted on calling her parents to say good night.
OK, I thought – that seems fair. She took the phone and shut herself in the bathroom. She was there for a very long time – way past goodnight.
“What’s our play here?” I asked MamaGoof.
I knocked on the bathroom door and chatted with the sleepless one’s parents. What we agreed is that we would tell her that her dad would be here to pick her up in about an hour (it takes 20 minutes) and that she should lie down in the meantime. I offered to keep lied down on the living room couch as sleepless one joined her friends on the living room floor. We were sure she would be asleep in no time and her parents did not need to come get her. These little deceptions are the very essence of parenthood.
The plan worked, she was asleep in moments, so I went upstairs and went to bed.
Three hours later she came up to our room and demanded to know when her father was going to arrive to pick her up. The sleep of four parents was at stake here – I decided I would take the hit.
“You fell asleep, so I told you dad not to come over. Now it is really late and I can’t call him.”
“Yes you can, your phone works.”
“But that would wake him up, it isn’t fair. How about you get in my daughters bed, and I’ll lie on the floor in her room to keep you company?”
“OK…” she said skeptically. It was unseasonably cold, but she fell asleep after a while (and MamaGoof let me sleep in and made breakfast.) The sleepless one, by the way, was bouncing around at full volume with her friends. If she was short of energy, there was no sign. Later it occurred to me that she had been programmed to wake up in the dead of night when GoofBoy was vulnerable…
Discussing all of this with the Sleepless One’s very grateful parents the next morning, we learned that this has been a regular occurrence at our house, and boy were they glad to get a good night’s sleep.
Every once in a while, it strikes me that I am a grown-up. When other parents engage me as peers (don’t they realize I’m an overgrown kid who is constantly being told by his progeny to calm down?) But gently handling a difficult, albeit minor situation by sacrificing some comfort – I guess that’s what grown-ups do.