Three days removed from my daughter’s 7th birthday sleepover extravaganza, I can confidently say that I hate other people’s kids as much as they will likely hate mine soon.
Hosting my kids’ friends in mass is downright torturous – and the torture produces unintentional, but obvious, dad-to-kid tension.
I was able to survive the Saturday onslaught by relying on some critical dad-hosting protocols:
- I had enough water in the house to quench the thirst of a herd of empty-humped camels. I exercised an important ancillary skill here – making sure not to get frustrated when throwing away untouched glasses of water that a party-goer previously reported as “lost.” I’ll be asking Mother Nature for forgiveness for the amount water my party wasted.
- The snacks have to be ready, always available and plentiful. I planned to feed the equivalent of a high school marching band and football team. I came out just about right. It’s not only about the quantity, the more variety you have the better. There will be numerous requests for specific items that are underpinned by devout emotional conviction. The “but I don’t like that kind of Doritos” or “I only like cheese pizza” quotes come to mind quickly from the weekend celebration.
- Stockpile a significant amount of Band-Aids. If, on average, your family goes through ten of these sticky-sheer-magic-elixirs per week, buy about six months worth of inventory in preparation for the big party. The younger the party-goer, the more bandages needed. One sleepover fact is, without a doubt, there will be injuries – both legitimate and fake – all of which require the soothing touch that only a Band-Aid can provide.
- Remember that even the most pointed comments to the little angels should be softened by saying “honey” or “please” at the end. This worked well when, with my nerves frayed, I demanded the girl-herd to, “go to sleep right now! Please.”
Exhaustion, missing remote controls and dinged hardwood floors were not the only mementos the sleepover left behind. I was left wondering if my kids have contributed to a similar chaos at other people’s homes during their kids’ parties. The answer HAS to be “Yes.”
Now fully rested, I can reason that the party did provide a unique glimpse of what children are like in mass – and the realization that teachers are, indeed, saints.
The little party animals fell into a few distinct categories:
The “I’m not sitting by you, my party-my way” Bossy Queen. This spot is reserved for the honoree who, absent the bell, requires a personal assistant on her birthday. The day of the party I felt as if my normally sweet daughter had become a cross between the main characters from “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Mommy Dearest.”
The Little Mommy – This young lady is easy to pick out – dressed in a freshly ironed dress with perfectly symmetrical French-braids, no chipped finger nail polish to be found, anxious to greet you with a perfect smile. I should have identified these girls as allies right away as their agreeable personalities would have helped keep the peace.
The (Bad) Influencer – These girls are tough to point out and spend the night under-the-radar. My first responsibility as a host-parent is to stick to these kids like glue. Influencers are masterful recruiters if left alone to make their pitch. Of the dozens of times I lost control of the room, the party’s lead Influencer was to blame – other than me.
The Detective – Although not as conniving as an Influencer, the insatiable curiosity of Detectives can cause problems if their snooping uncovers items not made for public display. If you have a party full of Detectives, I’d suggest a padlock for a certain bedroom drawer and re-hiding your family’s “Elf-On-A-Shelf.”
Wading through all of these categories leads me to believe that my party driven parent-kid spite is a two-way street. My children will be equally destructive at your house. I’m embarrassed at the thought but chuckle at the reciprocal payback.
I know the day is coming so I should take this opportunity to levy a sincere, Good-Bad Dad apology to the parent hosting a sleepover next week.
I’m so sorry that I hate your kid right now. It will pass.
I’ll accept your apology, in advance, for my Bossy Queen’s conversion into an Influencer at your house. She will drive you to this same exhausted, spiteful conclusion I’ve reached.
A future play-date should help us bury the hate – as long as you watch your kid and I watch mine.