Monday, July 19, 2010

First Sleepover

A few weeks ago Primo had his first sleepover. I haven’t written about it til now because it has taken me this long to recover. The last sleepover I went to was when I was in junior high, freezing bras and wearing my retainer. I remember it being wildly fun. And I’m sure Primo will remember this sleepover the same way. I recall it as an experience I could only repeat with the help of booze.

Lesson number 1 of parenting: the amount of fun your child has is usually in direct proportion to how exhausted you will be.

The sleepover was my brainchild, incidentally. On the last day of Kindergarten, we found out that Primo and Leigh, his very best friend, will not be in class together next year. These things happen of course, and maybe it will be good for them and prompt them to diversity their friend base. But still it was a blow. To pick up the kids’ spirits (and mine, too, because frankly, I was as sad to know they’d be separated as they were), I suggested that the following week, since there was no school or camp, that Leigh come to our apartment for both of the kids’ first-ever sleepover! The children were thrilled. It feels good to make children so incredibly ecstatic, and perhaps I was so high from this that I neglected to brace myself for the insanity that would ensue.

Let me say, before continuing, that the whole affair would have been fine, fairly unremarkable, if we were to live in a normal-sized residence, with over 200 square feet allotted to each of the member in our household. When you add a fifth person into our modified one-bedroom, you get pretty crowded. Of course, I grew up with me and my sisters and cousins often tossed in a bed all together – that was how I preferred it – so I don’t mind crowded sleeping quarters. As long as everyone is actually SLEEPING in them. Aye, there’s the rub. Because no one sleeps at a sleepover.

We had dinner with my grandmother and the kids ate cartoon-character cookies that were as big as their faces which Leigh had brought over as a sleepover treat. I’d told Primo and Sec that we could eat the graduation cake I’d made a few days earlier for dessert so of course they wanted this as an after-cookie dessert and when I told them it was just a wee bit too much sugar for their little systems, my grandmother pointed out they could always have it for breakfast.

“CAKE FOR BREAKFAST!!!!” they shrieked. The amount of sheer joy was almost at Christmas-level.

Then the kids put on their PJS and we negotiated bedtime reading, not as easy feat for two kids, and less easy for three. Primo wanted Just So Stories. Leigh wanted Meg and Mog and Seconda, for her part, demanded to do the reading herself which nobody liked. Finally, the sleeping bags were unfurled and the lights turned off and the party really got started

I told them they could talk and tell stories and jokes and look at books but that they should stay in their beds. And I do believe they would have, since both Primo and Leigh are generally law-abiding citizens, had not the anarchist Seconda led the way to revolution. All I know is that when I went back in the room a half hour later, the girls were both more bedecked in jewelry than Queen Elizabeth. Not only that, but they had taken out the dress-up trunk and we wearing elaborate costumes – Spiderman suits, animal masks, Hawaiian leis. Meanwhile, Primo was making a major arts and crafts project which involved scissors, glue, chopsticks and construction paper.

I confiscated the craft supplies and had them take off the costumes. Then I tucked them back in and left the room. Ten minutes later, I repeated the process. Ten minutes after that, I removed Sec, the instigator, from the bedroom and put her on a palette on the floor next to my bed. It was 9:30, which in my book is two hours past the point that I have any patience or energy left for child caring, so I informed the kids it was really time to seriously think about winding down. Getting down to it.

“We’re going to stay up ALL NIGHT,” smiled Leigh.

“Yeah,” giggled Primo, lying next to her on the floor, “we are NEVER going to sleep!”

I laughed nervously, “That IS a funny joke, guys. Very funny. But of course now it is really time for sleep/”

With Sec out, they managed to stay lying down, but the noise emanating from the bedroom – the chortles and guffaws, the shrieks of “POOPY FACE!” and “BOOTY HEAD!” Did not indicate we were getting close to slumber. It was 10pm, the hour at which I get ready to go to bed myself. I went back in.

“We WANT to go to sleep,” said Leigh, “But we just CAN’T.”

“Yeah, we just don’t feel SLEEPY,” echoed Primo.

I sat down next to them and sang them a song – the whole time wondering whether Leigh’s mom sang to her, wondering if she thought I had a good voice, considering whether she’d tell her mom that I sang to them and whether Leigh’s mom would think I was a weirdo or an exemplar mom. After that, around 10:30, they did manage to fall asleep somehow, the two of them together in the bottom bunk. Then I worried that Leigh would fall off the bunk and not only hurt herself but wake my downstairs neighbor, so I lined the floor by the edge of the bed with pillows.

Then I joined David on the couch and teared up, so overcome was I with emotion at how much my baby was growing up. There he was, snuggled in bed with his first best friend, the two of them bed side by side, so big – old enough to read and tie knots and have bona-fide sleepover with silly jokes and staying up late -- but still such little kids, still in their kiddie PJS, still with the look of cherubim on their sleeping faces.

So, despite all my grumbling the next morning when they woke at
5:45am (!!!!) the truth is, I really enjoyed the sleepover too. What can I say, I am big old softie.