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Party Animals

Friday, June 2nd, 2006


Quote of the Day: “I used to be a hot-tar roofer. Yeah, I remember that…day.”

- Mitch Hedburg

Tonight my daughter had a birthday sleepover.

Years ago, I wrote about my son’s birthday party and I thought, hey, a bunch of girls couldn’t be any worse. In fact, the other girl parties my daughter has had have been low key affairs because unlike boys, girls don’t want to see the house in a charred rubble by the end.

But now my daughter is a sixth grader. So this means preteen girls. Which obviously means…. Drama.

It all started off with the parents dropping off their demure little angels. The girls were quiet, well-behaved, and very polite. One by one they showed up until our house was filled with preteen girls. It was like sitting on a nuclear bomb.

It took about five minutes before I looked at my wife with bloodshot eyes as the cackling sound of 7 little girls all talking at once in the next room filled the house. It sounded like a cacophony of excited girls racing to see how fast and loud each could outtalk each other. And they were racing for the tape, folks.

It didn’t take long before I had a herd of girls moving as one from one room to the other. Like a flock of birds they flittered into each room going from one thing to the other with my daughter as the field marshal.

Out to the trampoline where all the girls jumped with abandon. Into her room to talk and inspect every toy Steph had ever owned. Downstairs to watch a comedy show. Back outside… this went on all night.

At first, my boy was holed up in his room. When I went in to check on him, he was doing fine but when I tried to tackle him onto his bed, as I often do, he stage-9 freaked. He was mortified that one of the girls would enter while his dad was wrestling with him. That just wasn’t “cool” although I’ll point out to the little hypocrite that he has no problem when no one’s around!

Then he started exploring out of his room and while he wouldn’t have admitted it even with thumbscrews involved, he wanted to be part of the action. Hmmmm, the only 14-year-old boy at a girl’s slumber party. He’s a good kid but girls at this age are somewhat boy crazy so I have to assume there was tension in the air. Them not wanting be too obvious and fawning over him, he not wanting to be interested in a bunch of dumb girls. It was quite the entertaining little melodrama.

As the night progressed, the girls started breaking up into their natural cliques. Some were out on the trampoline, some sitting inside signing each other’s yearbooks, some locked in the bathroom crying over some miniscule comment. You know, normal girl stuff.

When the pizza arrived, it was amazing how fast 3 large pizzas, two orders of hot wings, and two liters of soda can become spinning cardboard boxes, empty plastic bottles, and tin foil blowing across a barren kitchen counter. I would like to know, exactly, where these 60-lb girls pack this amount of food. Their stomachs look to me to be the size of a tennis ball.

When it was time for the presents, we somehow wrangled all the cats into one room and got them seated. They formed a large semi-circle around Steph as she opened up the gifts.

For boys, this process takes about 10 seconds, tops. They would open the present, mumble a forced “thanks” and move on. Like hunting, they would hunt the gift, set it aside, and get back to the hunt.

For girls, it’s different. Once they all got into place, they seemed in no hurry to open anything but their mouths. They chattered, giggled, and carried on no less than 16 conversations at once.

Finally, Steph opened the first gift very slowly and everyone watched with anticipation. When the present finally emerged, they all ooooh’ed and awwww’ed about it for 5 minutes, discussing the many and various uses of said present followed by extended stories about each of the girls’ vast experiences with similar items.

As the present opening ceremony continued, I noticed that the semi-circle was getting smaller and smaller. By the end, all the girls were huddled together in a neat little bundle which culminated in all the girls jumping on Steph to the war cry “pig pile!!!

After peeling themselves off my daughter, the girls were enticed to the kitchen for the cake. Wait, didn’t these little omnivores just finish off 17 lbs of food each? And haven’t they been running around like Pomeranians after a spent Starbucks $100 gift certificate? And we are going to feed them an ice cream cake now?

Yeah, gasoline to the fire, folks, gasoline to the fire.

Let me just throw in my list of top 10 things you should NEVER provide to 7 preteen girls at a slumber party if you want even a shred of sanity left:

1. Unlimited soft drinks
2. Huge punchy balloons with rubber bands attached
3. Squawky noisemakers
4. Confetti
5. NO bedtime
6. Run of the house for Hide and Seek
7. Run of the house for Truth or Dare
8. Sugar-coated candy sours
9. A large dog prone to feed off of kid-excitement
10. An older brother who tends to piss off the Princess of the Party

Don’t get me wrong, it was a great party but it was a testament to the endless love I have for my daughter that I didn’t end up in the fetal position in my room.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the behavior of my wife through all of this. You know that “cool” mom that everyone just loves? The one that is a blur behind the scenes making every evolution of the party just happen without taking a militant approach? The one who still takes time to talk to every girl at the party and make them feel special? The one who is nearby but far enough away? The one that joins in some things like one of the girls but knows when to let them have their own time? The one who knows when to inject herself, when to pull back the son and the father, and when to let the girls go wild?

Yeah, that was Carrie. She kept things moving along, played the perfect hostess, and made all the girls feel at home. Most of all, I was most impressed with her as the role model. Just seeing how she handled the night, I could imagine that each girl received a healthy dose of how to be a strong and loving mother.

For her part, Steph was the princess for the day and what girl doesn’t need that every once in awhile? It was very obvious she was having the time of her life and even through all of the drama that is guaranteed when you have 6 preteen girls over for a slumber party, I have absolutely no complaints.

Happy birthday, Steph.

Free Advice for Today: “Locate teh emergency exits on your floor as soon as you check into your hotel room.”

- H. Jackson Brown, Jr.