Women have an incredible ability to block out memories of sever physical pain; how else can you explain the fact that many sign up to endure labor again by having more than one child?
Surely it cannot be because children provide joy that somehow balances out the rigors of passing the rough equivalent of a bowling ball through one’s nether regions.
Children do have a way of making parents of both sexes stupid. We forget all sorts of horrific experiences we vowed never to do again. A few months pass, and, there we are, willfully signing up to do it all once more. Unlike child birth, we can’t blame it on a lack of – ahem – rhythm.
It’s just our abject stupidity.
Stupidity, of course, brings us to sleepovers. Normally such events take place in conjunction with birthday parties. Unfortunately for us, our three sons’ birthdays are a little more than six weeks apart, compressing this fun and frivolity into something more akin to an endurance test, or boot camp. Our daughter has yet to get into the mix, although that looms just around the corner, I am sure.
There have been good ones and there have been bad ones. Good ones usually mean the weather cooperates and the children can be run ragged outdoors in a controlled environment. The physical exertion generally means they will sit somewhat quietly once indoors for a prolonged period of time.
Bad ones remain hard to remember, which goes to illustrate the blocking-out thing we parents do as a form of self-preservation. I do dimly recall one sleepover where two of my charges were on Ritalin – during the weekdays. Taken off Ritalin on the weekends seemed to unleash unholy pent-up energy which they could not adequately harness. I, of course, learned this the hard way when I came downstairs at 2:00 a.m. to find one of them taking apart my computer.
I sat at my computer desk to protect it from these chemically-deprived darlings until about 5:00 a.m., whereupon I went back upstairs to bed and tapped my wife on the shoulder. Like heavily out-matched tag team wrestlers, we were switching roles. It was now her turn to protect the house from the invading armies.
That, as I recall, was the worst sleepover in memory.
Until last weekend, however.
Birthdays are overblown productions in the household, per the instructions of my wife. The events can run for days. The first proposal by the birthday boy in question was to head to a dance on Friday night, go to a movie and have a sleepover Saturday night, and have the family party Sunday. My wife had readily agreed to this before I politely suggested that even maids and butlers get a day off on the weekends, so how about combining the dance and the sleepover?
I figured this might also ax at least one activity, but noooooo. The movie was shifted to a matinee, then dinner, then the dance, and then the joys of the sleepover were to follow.
Luckily, I missed the movie. The chaperone made the fateful mistake of not sitting in the middle of the testosterone-crazed adolescents in the theatre. People were coming up to her in the aisle, begging said chaperone to make them be quiet as they laughed uproariously at whomever was the last one of them to pass gas.
Upon arriving at my home, the shrieks and footsteps I heard startled me, leading me to believe there was some kind of apocalyptic battle occurring in my driveway. It was merely a preview of the coming attractions.
After ingesting pizza it was off to the dance, which, we were told, ended at 9:30. Having dodged the movie, I figured I should take the dance transportation bullet in the chest. I’d drop them off, go shopping, and pick them up. Simple, huh?
There was, however, one slight problem with the plan: the dance ended at 9:00, resulting in several calls home and then to me as the dance organizers grew increasingly impatient with this angelic little group left hanging around. My wife then got to scamper around looking for a sitter for our sleeping daughter so she could try to get to the school sooner than I would. My wife and I wound up arriving in two different cars from two different directions right around 9:30.
The children were then largely contained in the family room, thanks to the miracle of television. Periodic checks only resulted in temporary secession of wrestling matches. Ultimately, at 1:00 a.m. I made the final plea for quiet, popped in a PG-13 movie and wandered off to bed. At 5:00 a.m., there was panicky barking from our crated dog, who was turned into collateral damage in a shaving cream fight. I am not sure of my wife’s exact words, but I am certain they were less than cordial judging by the hissing that was still emanating from her mouth as she returned to bed.
In the morning, as the lads worked to restore some semblance of order to the family room, we learned that a couch leg had broken and that the pull out bed frame of said couch had somehow been bent such that it would no longer close. The only benefit, however, was that the spilled soda can next to the couch left the floor sticky, giving me extra traction as I stuffed the bed frame back into the couch.
And just think, there will be two more of these coming up. Then we get to start planning another trip to Disney, which is something I vowed only to do once, just shortly before I broke my vow to not have a fourth child.
Parents. We’re junkies for punishment and willful amnesiacs, all at the same time.