Courtesy of #5:
When #4 was in the third grade she turned nine and asked for a slumber party. I jumped at the chance, erroneously believing it would be a) cheaper and b) less time-consuming than a regular party. No loads of games and activities to plan; the girls would be largely self-sufficient.
I recalled slumber parties from my own childhood, where there were usually five of us and we’d be camped out in someone’s basement and the latest we were ever able to keep our eyes open was 1:00am.
At one slumber party I went to the birthday girl, Jeanette, mandated a no-talking rule promptly at 11:00pm and anyone who broke the rule got pointed at and her name written neatly on a piece of college-ruled notebook paper, which was to be given to Jeanette’s mother in the morning. I got my name written down for trying to talk someone into sticking someone else’s hand in warm water to see if we could make them pee their sleeping bag. We expected to have to write sentences- I will not talk at the slumber party– just like in school, but I don’t think that actually happened.
On the Friday night of #4’s slumber party, approximately 11,000
velociraptors nine-year-old girls arrived in our living room. I had invited them. On purpose. This is the point at which I suddenly understood, on a cellular level, that we did not have a basement. Nor did we have carpeting, or any absorptive surface in pretty much the whole house.
It all started off okay. They ate the junk food we bought. We did the few activities we had planned and they began entertaining themselves, doing little girl type things. The night passed happily, if loudly. I knew I could stick it out because soon enough they’d all be dropping off to sleep and we would once again have (relative) silence in our house.
I had never imagined that there might possibly exist 11,000 nine-year-old girls that were capable of going entirely without sleep, and that they would all be in my highly reflective living room, which was directly under my bedroom, at the same time.
Around midnight we called #4 upstairs and said, hey, tell your friends it’s time to quiet down and start to go to sleep. We weren’t too bothered yet, being that we work nights and usually stay up til 2:00am.
We called her up again around 1:00am and repeated the conversation a little more loudly.
Around 2:00am I called out, gently but firmly, from the doorway of the living room, “Girls, it’s time to go to sleep. No more talking.” Which was met by a stunned silence, then a fit of giggles which escalated into an even louder bedlam by the time I was at the top of the stairs.
Is there anything worse than a pack of nine-year-old girls who are acutely aware of their power? Where the hell was Jeanette?
By the time it degraded into us actually yelling at our birthday party guests somewhere after 4:00am to no avail, I just shut the door to my bedroom, set my alarm for 8:00am, and put my iPod on.
In the morning I discovered that they had eaten all of our other food during the wee hours of the morning and we didn’t even have anything left to make breakfast with.
We shoved the girls outside to play while CC went to the grocery store and made breakfast. By this time they were all fighting because not one of them had gotten a single minute of sleep. Some mothers began to arrive to pick their daughters up before breakfast was ready. It was awesome.
Got any slumber party stories to share?
I hate moving. It’s ironic, coming from someone who used to move multi-truck shows pretty much every week. Besides touring, I have had approximately thirty-seven addresses in my life. This is not an exaggeration. You can ask my mother and she’ll happily show you her paper address book.
Every time I move, I put it off until the last possible minute. Moving checklists from organizational type entities such as women’s magazines or the Post Office start two months out. I rarely have my next address two months out. I always use the same method: on moving day, throw everything in bags, suitcases, and milk crates and carry it out until it’s gone.
WARNING: This method doesn’t work when moving a household of seven people (in case you thought it sounded like a good plan that you might want to try).
In my defense, when we finally bought a house I knew my old method of moving wasn’t going to work, and we attempted those insane two-months-out checklists. It still came about that moving day dawned with less than half the house packed up. The movers got there late- but not that late.
The best part about the move is that CC had to work. One of the features of our jobs is that sometimes you actually can’t get a day off for very important things. Neat. He got up early, packed up some more boxes, went out and got me a bazillion shot cappuccino from our local coffee shop, and left for work.
Around this time, #1 was prepping for a trip to Europe. It was a big deal: an academic group that was invitation only. She did a ton of work with the group before the trip.
In 2008 when CC and I got married, #1 gave me this purse at my bridal shower (I promise, this is significant to the story):
On the day of the wedding, it became the thing I couldn’t lose. It held the rings; the check for the caterers; the money for the minister; the money for the band; the marriage certificate; the keys to Miss Lucy, my ’66 Mustang; my lipstick; and my chocolate.
Likewise, when we honeymooned in Costa Rica, it held our money and passports and credit cards- right up until the moment when we started driving through the flood:
. . . at which point I transferred everything to my undergarments. CC got us through the floods fine, though it was beyond sketchy at several points. To hold up my end of the bargain I made with god, I haven’t complained about his driving since. For real.
So the pirate purse was my logical place to put everything important on the day of the move. The money for the movers, the keys to both houses, my ID, and #1’s recently-acquired passport, because she needed it for her trip in about three weeks.
We moved. It sucked. Around 9pm, there was no place left to put boxes in any of the rooms, but there were boxes filling the last quarter of the truck. I told the movers to stack them in the garage. They moved faster than they’d moved the entire day and I couldn’t keep up- end result being that any box we might actually need was topped by six other boxes that had come out of basement storage.
Over the next couple days, we began making paths and striving for some order out of the chaos. This was when I noticed that #1’s passport was NOT in the pirate purse.
I remembered putting the passport in there. Except, clearly, I hadn’t. So where was it?
We spent a total of three days going through every box literally three times. It was a mind-numbing, time-consuming experience that left us drained and our house in even more disorder, and still we did not find the passport.
By this point, we had to tell #1 that I had lost her passport in the move. Any shred of belief she had about me being responsible vanished at this point. CC got online and started researching how to get a passport really fast. We had the added red tape of needing to provide extra legal documentation regarding custody in person. He attempted to make appointments at several different offices and did get one.
In ten days.
If that didn’t work out, she wasn’t going to get to go on the trip. And it was All. My. Fault.
We continued to look for it right up to the night before the appointment. We were getting ready for bed. CC had set his alarm for some ungodly hour way before the sun was coming up. He glanced at the secretary’s desk in our room, an antique that belonged to his mother. It’s the very desk that I’m writing on right now. It folds up and has a key lock and I had placed that key in the pirate purse.
CC: Where’s the key to the desk? We haven’t looked in here.
CC: That’s not the key. That’s the key to the wardrobe you gave to Lindsey and David.
We looked at each other. It was almost too much to hope for. But why would I have considered that key to be so important that it went in the Pirate Purse?
CC went to the garage and found his toolbox, because even if I can’t keep track of a passport I know not to bury the tools. He brought a file and proceeded to file the wrong key down until it fit the keyhole on the desk.
He opened the desk, and there was the passport.
I felt such a flood of relief that I feel it even now while we’re still paying for that trip on credit. I will add to my list of qualifications for stepmom of the year: I did not completely crush her soul and forfeit her trip to Europe!
Ever lost a passport? What important objects have you lost? What’s your qualification for [fill-in-the-blank] of the year?