For quite some time, Ella and Annie have been begging to have a sleepover with our next door neighbors at the lake (girls who are significantly older, but with whom they get along famously). They’d never slept over at anyone’s house before, and I wasn’t sure how it would go… But, with us visiting our family’s lake house this week, last night seemed as good a chance as any to give it a whirl. The girls were thrilled. (And, hey, it would
mean that Nick and I wouldn’t have to share a room with them give them a chance to develop a little independence. Win, win!)
I expected Annie to maybe struggle a bit, both because she’s the youngest and also because she gets scared at the slightest provocation (taking her to Brave may have scarred her for life; her resulting determination to use bows and arrows in the house may have scarred me for life). I decided it would be a good idea to walk her and Ella next door, check out where they’d be sleeping, visit briefly with their friends’ mom, and give a few reassuring hugs before I returned home for a night
of freedom with my family.
After dropping off their overnight bags (they’d been instructed to bring only necessities, so naturally they each brought 286 stuffed animals, two changes of clothes, several blankets, a bag of toiletries, and maybe 63 books), we went upstairs and I chatted with the mom. Then, to my surprise, Ella pulled me aside and whispered that she didn’t think she could do this. (Just when you think you’ve got your kids down, bam!, they let you know what a presumptive idiot you are.) She was too nervous, it wasn’t her own bed, what if she couldn’t fall asleep??
I talked to her for a minute, reassuring her that I thought she’d be fine — but if not, she could come home anytime. This seemed to placate her, and after I gave her a hug, I turned to do the same with Annie – but she’d already run off to play, dismissing me with a single hand wave. So much for my natural motherly instinct.
Like everywhere east of the Mississippi, it had been raining basically all day, and the ground was absolutely soaked. On the way over, we’d eked our way up the (normally grass, now mud) hill between our houses, and so I gingerly started the short journey home, taking painstakingly slow stutter steps to avoid my feet sliding entirely out from under me.
Yeah. You know when you’re holding something, a towering pile of boxes or library books or plates you’re balancing for the circus, and you feel them start to go off kilter… and you try to recalibrate, to calm the swaying, to stop the inevitable, but suddenly you know – there is just no doubt – that everything is going down, and there is absolutely nothing you can do about it?
Yup. Behold: the inevitable.
Shorts, legs, shoes and forearms (where I’d tried to brace myself): covered with mud.
It should be noted that this photo was taken by my mother, who promptly put it on Facebook, saying I’d “hurried” down the hill. Ahhh, family…
It took a good thirty minutes to remove the mud and the stench, but when I finally did, I rewarded myself with a nice big bowl of peanut butter cup ice cream (with homemade fudge sauce, FTW!), half expecting Ella to come walking in any moment… But, for a solid two hours, the doors stayed blissfully closed. I’d just settled in to savor a glass of Sauvignon Blanc when my phone chirped all-too-happily at me to alert me that I had a text. It seems that Ella had borrowed our neighbor’s iPod and just needed to check in…
8 year-olds and hyperbole = BFFs.
The texts continued for a good half-hour, and although it is endearing being loved so so so so much, it’s even more endearing when your child powers through her first sleepover and actually falls asleep. After a couple of “I might come home but I’m not sure” exchanges, I told her that either was fine — stay, or return — but that she really needed to get some sleep. Amazingly, she agreed, and the texts stopped… so I assume that she fell asleep shortly thereafter. Or perhaps she robbed a bank and then wrote the great American novel – but hey, I didn’t hear from her… so yay, sleepovers!
Although both of my girls usually awaken early, there’d been talk amongst them and their buddies (who, as middle-schoolers, tend to go all Edward and [post-gruesome-Renesmee birth] Bella if they see the sun before noon) that they’d try to sleep until 9:00. I said a prayer to the sleep gods that maybe their friends’ habits would rub off on Annie and Ella, hoping they’d all get some decent shut-eye, and then went to bed myself. Despite the rare opportunity to sleep in ourselves, Nick and I both got up early today – and, as I looked down at the neighbors’ beach shortly before 8 a.m., I saw all four girls, pajama-clad, groggily dipping toes in the lake and checking out the foggy morning. Sleep gods, you totally slacked on this one.
Around 10:20, they finally came home, having had a marvelous time and looking surprisingly zippy.
Ella’s eyes are closed probably because she’s trying to concentrate on corralling the stuffed animal tribe she brought with her.
I girded myself for the exhausted meltdowns that I was sure would come today… But, again, both girls completely disregarded my superior parental instincts and had a great, cheerful, not-at-all cranky day. They pushed all the way through until 8:00, when I began to notice that they looked a little droopy as they ate their dessert, so I encouraged them to move along and head to bed. They brushed and washed and pajama-ed, protesting that they were just fine, not tired at all… But, a mere three minutes later when I came to check on them and say goodnight, they were both completely zonked, already snoring away.
Looks like mother does (occasionally) know best. Holla!
I’d definitely recommend not following me home, however. At least not after it’s rained.