At some point in time, recently, I went a bit batty and agreed to invite all of L and E's friends for a birthday slumber party. I remember thinking, "How bad could it be?" I will tell you: at 1 am last night, I was thinking, "I HATE ALL THESE CHILDREN I WANT THEM TO GO AWAY OR SHUT THE HELL UP I DON'T CARE HOW IT HAPPENS."
We had a total of twelve girls - my three, eight other 3rd graders, and one girl's little sister for C. They're all nice kids (with two drama queens from households that, as far as I can tell, are lenient when it comes to the word no) so they got along well and were relatively pleasant to hang out with, but were unbearably LOUD. They squealed and giggled at first and then the noise level quickly escalated to talking/squealing over each other and then simply yelling to be heard. It was insane.
I did a little bit of pre-organization, but I left most of the work to be done on Friday. I had the day off and all the girls were off from school. I went for a quick run in the morning and while we were waiting for the washing machine to be delivered, we baked and cleaned and organized. I had issued a sternly worded proclamation about how children who were having a slumber party were expected to uncomplainingly help prepare for said slumber party and NOT create any new messes, but I don't know that that was even necessary. L vacuumed the entire main floor and basement, E cleaned the bathroom, they helped me make their chosen cakes (chocolate cupcakes and angel food cake, respectively), and made a grocery list and gamely shopped with me. What I didn't think about was how the preparation would be so exhausting and THEN the guests would arrive.
Thankfully, one mom dropped her kid off early because they were in the neighborhood, so I didn't have to listen to too much "How much longer?!" Everyone had arrived by 4:30 (even the one who RSVPed six hours prior to the 4 pm start time) except for one girl. I texted her mom and asked if she was still coming (I didn't want to exclude her from a group picture) and they showed up around 5. Here's what's kind of weird. Her mom RSVPed almost immediately after I sent the invites, but didn't mention that she and her daughter and her son would be staying and that her daughter wouldn't be spending the night. So what started out as a "I just want to make sure I have your phone number and does she have any allergies?" conversation turned into an awkward " . . . oh . . . you're staying? . . . oh, yes that's fine!" conversation.
I totally get not dropping your kid off with a stranger for the night, but maybe tell me that when you RSVP? Or drop your kid off for the evening and pick her up at 8? Or mention that you'd like to stay for a while/the whole time? It was all very weird in the vibe-y sense. The son is in C's class, so they knew each other and played fine, but I suddenly had this other adult and I felt a little bad, but there was no way I could make any sort of polite conversation. Like I said, I'm fine that she stayed, but a little heads up would have been appreciated.
The girls giggled and shrieked and played the Wii and ran around until A arrived around 6 with pizza. We had pop, pizza, fruit salad, and breadsticks while they watched The Princess Diaries. Then we had cupcakes/angel food cake/ice cream. Afterward, A and I sent them all upstairs (this was when I pointed out: "They're all contained. We could escape now!") while we scattered candy around and turned out all the lights. They came down with flashlights and we had a candy scavenger hunt. What I didn't expect was the elaborate marketplace they set up afterward with storefront signs/slogans and bargaining for different types of favored candy. We watched another movie (The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl) and I - oh so innocent me - thought that they would soon be asleep.
Two of the kids - E and Karen's daughter - were asleep by 10:30. A and I naively thought that we could go upstairs and sleep while the sleepers were comfortably tucked into the living room and the kids that wanted to stay awake quietly talked and played games in the basement. WEREN'T WE CUTE? It took about ten minutes before I rolled back out of bed and took over the shushing of the basement kids. On the plus side, I started reading Howl's Moving Castle while supervising - yet another example of a book being way better than a movie, even a Miyazaki movie.
The two 5yos were upstairs in the girls' room and were asleep by midnight, adorably draped all over each other. L crashed by 11:30 and I tweeted to Karen that our kids were the only ones asleep and we obviously win at parenting. At midnight, I was hemming and hawing about enforcing a "You must sleep now" rule. I don't issue rules I can't enforce and I wasn't sure how to enforce it. By 1 am, I had reached the pointed I mentioned earlier and stomped downstairs, demanding, "DO ANY OF YOU FEEL TIRED?" The six that were down there demurred, and I replied, "Okay. You are all done talking. I'm going to sit right here on the steps and read and no one is allowed to talk. GO. TO. SLEEP."
They were asleep in about two minutes, and I wondered if maybe they were faking so that I would leave, but soon someone farted loudly and no one giggled, so I figured I was safe to go to bed. At 1:16 I declared myself the winner over a bunch of kids and stumbled upstairs.
A had gone to bed earlier (I strongly recommend sleeping in swing shifts), so he was up with everyone at 6. I had set out cereal and juice and donut holes, but when I rolled out of bed at 7, the kid who "isn't supposed to eat sugar" was eating Smarties for breakfast. They watched some TV, set up their candy marketplace again, and basically played until 9:30 when I made everyone start finding their stuff.
We also used this time to make a craft:
I printed off the group picture I took onto special paper (bought at Michael's) and then ironed it onto white pillowcases I had bought off Amazon. This took HOURS. I did it the previous night while they were watching movies. I had everyone sign each pillowcase with fabric markers and then they could decorate them. Their goody bags also included a water bottle (labeled with their name - they used this for the whole party), a flashlight for the scavenger hunt, a light up bouncy ball, glow-in-the-dark bracelets, and a sleep mask.
Parents started arriving shortly before 10 and the last kid was gone by 11. One of my friends dropped off a bottle of wine when she picked up her kids and that is the best idea ever and I'm using it for any future slumber parties. After the last kid was gone, A and I high-fived and then he cleaned the house while I slept on the couch for a few hours. We survived! Direct quote from A: "It was fun! I mean, it was awful, but you did a good job. It was an awful soul-searing event, but it was fun. And awful."