Saturday, November 1, 2008

What possessed us?

There is some collective wisdom in parenting. You know, there are some things you might choose to do that everyone who has had any experience in doing it will advise against it. Or at the very least they will give you a frank and brutal description of the costs. And the precision of their estimate is very high indeed.

One such activity is when your 9 year old daughter asks for her birthday party to be a slumber party. This is when your daughter and say 4 of her friends stay the night and engage in what can safely be termed, 'all night partying.' The collective wisdom suggests that this will be a shock to your household that could involve weeks, months or years of recovery. And you take that into account when you agree to said party. I guess there is something going on in your mind saying, "well, I had better see this for myself. That way I will have a story to tell."

But there is no story to tell. Others have told it time and time again. The misnomer of the term, 'slumber,' the predictable results from continual hours of eating sugar, the screams or worse, the actual conversation. We had got through a basketball game, a chocolate eating game (which involves throwing dice, changing clothes and taking turns in stabbing a 500g block of Cadbury dairy milk chocolate to death), a drawing game, an ice cream eating contest (necessitating another change of clothes), dinner out at a Chinese restaurant and a treasure hunt (that had previously involved months of planning and treasure in the form of sugar to fuel the festivities for the rest of the night). I looked at my watch after that and remarked "only 14 and a half hours to go!" All exactly the same story, regardless of era or locality.

Our, now 10 year old, daughter had engaged in an extreme amount of planning for this event. Every minute was accounted for. I couldn't see how she would get through it. But she did and what is more, all of her friends went along with it. She had even scheduled the times her younger brother would spend annoying or playing pranks on them. He had agreed to that schedule as it all made some sort of sense to him. And he kept to it and they had, much to my surprised actually been annoyed by it!

We had one activity that was claimed to have parental approval, that we did have to put a stop on in the middle of the night. We heard a giggling mob converge up the stairs before said younger brother's bedroom armed with an array of cosmetics products. The plan was to give him a make over during his sleep. We deferred that activity until the morning whereby they bribed him to sit still by giving him a portion of their remaining sugar supply. The result was apparently so bad that he volunteered to have them take a picture of his bare butt rather than his face. It now sits in iPhoto as a precious memory of the occasion.

It was one night but I feel as if it has taken some months off my life expectancy. And so I write this post not to you folk reading it as a word of caution. That word is already out. No I write it so I can read it before we agree to any more of these things. I am not sure that will work but it is worth a shot.