I was really sort of hoping something would go wrong.
Okay, not really. But when Henry asked for a sleepover party for his sixth birthday, and I agreed to it, part of me thought, at least it will make a good blog post. This is how I survive the bad days, my friends. I mine my own suffering for content opportunities. This is how I get by.
We invited four boys to his party—that's four sets of parents who all thought I was clinically insane. I know they thought I was insane because they told me. "Good luck, but you're completely nuts," they said, in one form or another. One parent told me (after accepting the invite) that her son was prone to night terrors. Another told me (also, before I could rescind the offer) that her son tended to "wander" in the night. I had some second thoughts. As the night approached, I began to dread, a little, the idea of one child screaming bloody murder at 4 a.m., waking up the other kids, except for the one who had already gone missing. Surely no blog post can be worth this, I thought.
I know, can you imagine? I thought that. I am so sorry.
A few days before the party Scott insisted that he was going to initiate some kind of pumpkin-carving activity with all the kids. He would have them all design jack o' lanterns, and then he would carve the pumpkins. Five pumpkins. I pictured the children designing impossibly complex faces for their jack o'lanterns; Scott surrounded by pumpkin gore and weeping in frustration. Now that's something to write about. "Go for it," I told him. "But don't hack a thumb off, or anything. That wouldn't be funny."
So. Saturday night was the party, and you know what? The whole damn thing went just fine.
There were no night terrors. No one walked anywhere in their sleep. No one soaked their sleeping bags after finishing one juice box too many. No one got hurt, or cried for their parents. No one had to be driven home before dawn. Everyone got along, slept for a decent amount of time, and kept their hands to themselves.
As for Scott's insane pumpkin project, I am sorry to say that it, too, went without a hitch. Apparently Scott has superhuman forearms and can tolerate gutting one pumpkin after another—or maybe he was soaking his arms in ice water and downing black-market oxycontin when I wasn't looking. The children were a little confused about what they had to do. Scott had provided them with each with a template, and they had to draw faces inside the templates, and they couldn't wrap their minds around this. "I'm not allowed to carve pumpkins," they told Scott, "that's too dangerous." No, he explained, you're not carving, you're just going to draw. "How do I draw on a pumpkin?" they asked. No, he explained, you draw on—"When do you give us the knives?" Eventually he repeated himself enough times and they understood, drew their designs, and had their pumpkins carved to order. The End.
The night was not entirely conflict-free. Henry wanted to watch a movie, but it turns out he is the only child in his group capable of sitting and watching something for more than seventeen seconds. Within moments they were all bouncing around, throwing popcorn and loudly discussing the wonderfulness of the movie they weren't watching. Henry kept shushing them, and then finally declared that he was the BIRTHDAY BOY and needed to be OBEYED. He said it so many times that his friends, who still wouldn't shut up, began addressing him as "Birthday Boy." I don't think they were being sarcastic. I was pretty syre he was going to lose it, but then after a while he just gave up, chatted and bounced along with his friends, and peace was restored. And that was that.
I can't say I would have preferred to suffer for your benefit, but surely something could have happened. One episode of puking, SOMETHING. Instead they were all just adorable. Jerks.