Every year I cringe. (I hope I cringe internally, but I think the girls – to some extent, at least – know how very much I dread the Birthday Party Chaos.) Every year the girls’ birthdays come around, and every year I am all MUPPET ARMS! LET’S CELEBRATE BIRTHDAYS! Birthdays are HYOOGE around here. But then after the actual birthday celebration comes the dreaded birthday party – kids and chaos and noise and spills and oof. I can barely stand the chaos after a rowdy indoor weekend with all of my kiddos, nevermind a sleepover with everyone else’s!
It probably doesn’t help that for the past two years, we had a joint party. All of Bee’s friends and all of Gracie’s friends piled over to have one giant, joint birthday party so I would only have to stand the chaos once. It was brilliant…except for the part where there were 20 girls at my house. (And Gracie’s best friend J., who is a boy. He stayed for a few hours, and then his mama [a bestie of mine, who came for moral support] took him outta the way so the girls could get a bit more girlie.) Two years ago, Kim flew down to surprise Gracie and to help me deal with all of that. Last year, I made Jeff stay over and help deal.Having back-up was a smart move on my part – everyone got out alive.
But this year, this year was different. Bee wanted to have a skating party because half of her friends wouldn’t be allowed to come to a sleepover since their parents don’t know me. Gracie’s sleepover would be solo. And she only inviting seven friends! Plus the Redheads – I don’t count them towards the tally, since we’re inviting them anyway. They’re half mine. Heh. Gracie ended up paring down the list a bit, and then two friends couldn’t come [one of whom I met at academic olympics and she’s darling!]. So Gracie had three friends from school, plus the older Redhead. Redhead the Younger paired off with Bee for the night and so it just naturally worked out that the “Big Kids” could watch movies and do their own thing, and the “Littles” made forts outside and stalked the Xman and caught frogs and stuff. It worked out really well.
Another big thing happened – I let Gracie and her friends walk to the park in our neighborhood without an adult. I was a nervous wreck the entire time, even though there were five tweenaged girls and the likelihood someone would try to snatch them was low. If you read as many books about kidnapped tweens, you would worry too! I warned them all that they HAD to stick together, no pulling pranks, no running off, and if I heard that anyone did, they would face the WRATH OF GOD. I didn’t even care if I was embarrassing Gracie with my stern admonition. But they were cool. I got nervous when Gracie wasn’t answering my texts when it was time to check in – boy, did she get yelled at for that! – and they were almost 10 minutes late. But they were alive and all aglow with getting to do New Things. Adult Things. They even woke up early the next morning to do it again! It must have been a Big Deal to them, and that is adorable.
And that was really the worst part of the evening – worrying about whether they were alive or kidnapped for those 10 minutes. Because the kids were quiet and amazing and respectful and pretty much the opposite of chaos. We did cake right after the park:
Corrie came back by after she and John went to dinner, and Jeff and I hung out with her and had a few drinks. Just a few.
Really. That’s just us being us, because Jeff was really about to go put the Xman to bed and read stories. (Hence the books.) The Xman did fairly well staying away from the girls like he was told 192080932 times before the party. The Littles let him play with them for a bit. Then Jeff and I took turns keeping him occupied while we kept an eye on things at the party. Mostly, the big kids were self-sufficient. I brought them snacks and things. Showed the girls were the cups and drinks and things were (and then told them to have at it and make themselves at home). It was just…chill.
The girls settled down to watch movies pretty soon after. And that was really the last we heard of them.
The Littles had camped out in the front room, planning pranks and such. Nothing permanent, no going outside, don’t make anyone scream. Those were my rules. They ended up throwing paper airplanes(ish) that said “Stay away, dummies” and “cuckers”. Which, um, okay. Adorable, and I kind of busted a gut when I found them!
The big kids soon spread out their blankets and figured out where they were sleeping and then Gracie asked if they could do nails. I had already relaxed my No Drinking Anywhere But The Kitchen rule, and I was hella nervous about nail polish and nail polish remover ending up on my floor or (newish) couches, but I took a deep breath and said okay. Gracie said she could tell I was wicked anxious when I came out to check on things a couple
thousand times, and said she made the younger Redhead do her nails on the ratty wooden table instead of the couch, which was a great move considering all the nail polish the kid got on her feet and hands, and generally kept an eye on things. I love that Gracie-girl. I think I’ll keep her.
After that, it was fairly quiet. Jeff and I had moved into our bedroom after Corrie left, just watching movies and eating key lime pie in bed. Oh, and alcohol. I took alcohol.
All in all, it was a good, good night. No one went home, no one got their feelings hurt (other than the Littles when I kicked them back to their front room at midnight). Even no one was cranky the next day! I WIN! It was really the perfect sleepover. I invited all of the girls to sleep over whenever they wanted. Really, really. The only thing that happened, was this:
A tired Gracie parked her butt on the couch on Sunday and pretty much didn’t move all afternoon. Except to help out with chores, voluntarily, because apparently tweenagers know how to say thank you. Not sure that will last, but I’ll take it!
Happy birthday, Gracie-girl. I hope you loved your party as much as you did. And good job on choosing your new village of people. Your mama is feeling pretty good, knowing that you know what you’re doing.