I’ve always considered parenting to be a complex mix of a lot of help from God and a generous dose of Stockholm Syndrome (where hostages form a bond with their captors). This weekend did northing to alter that mindset. This weekend was “Girls Weekend” in Schenaniganland. Captain Schenanigan and Manchild were off to a Cub Scout camp out (only about 15 minutes away I learned after camping ended). Leaving Girlchild and myself looking forward to a quiet, easy, weekend that included eating Chinese food, watching movies, going to Tractor Supply, and eating Chickfila. Not that complicated, which is my favorite way to do things!
We’d originally invited one of Girlchlld’s friends and her mother to come have Chinese with us, and then the friend would spend the night. That would give me a night to sit upstairs and read in bed alone while the two chatterboxes entertained themselves doing tweenage type things in the basement. But on Thursday I learned the camping trip was only one night, starting Saturday at noon.
Re-adjusting my expectations of alone time, we planned a full evening with friends, and figured out how to allow Manchild to play with the girls a portion of the night, then sequester him away with Daddy playing Mario Cart for the rest of the evening to give the girls their privacy. It totally worked, and having Captain around for dinner allowed the grown-ups to talk through our pending kitchen renovation- something our friend had just completed in her own home.
So bedtime rolls around and the girls are all chattypants down in the basement, I can hear them until about midnight. Anytime another child sleeps in my house, I sleep even lighter than usual. Because I never know how comfortable how they are coming to get me if they feel scared, lonely, or sick. It’s awkward to walk into your friend’s parent’s bedroom if you need something during the night. So I always sleep prepared to launch out of bed if I hear trepedous little feet coming down the hall. It’s not a particularly restful, but my goal is to avoid tears and create fun for my daughter, not wake refreshed. Therefore, I hear every move everyone else in the house is making, waking several times a night, thanks to the cat and dog.
Sometime during the night a figure creeps into my room and I wake up immediately. It was Girlchld, climbing across me on her way into my bed, telling me she’s scared. I question her about leaving her friend alone in the basement only to learn that this was NOT in fact Girlchild, but rather Manchild instead. Apparently in my daze in the dark, I can neither tell the height or voice of my children apart. I make room.
At precisely 4:50am Girlchild yells up the stairs to ask if they could feed the dog and cat and start their day. Whaaat?!? This is the same kid I have to dragggggg from her slumber at 8:30am on school days, after I start waking her at 7:30! The answer was an overwhelming no from her father, followed by a strongly encouraging message urging them both to go back to sleep. Thankfully, they complied. Manchild rose before the whole house and fed the relentlessly persistent cat and dog, then set in on video games. I roused in time to tend to the neighbor’s dog alone (which Girlchild and I are both sitting together) and start work by 8am. If I have to work 5 hours on Saturdays, at least I can do it from home, praise God!
So I answered phone calls from the public and the children fought over who was blowing who up on Minecraft. The Dynamic Cub Scout Duo had loaded the car the day before and were anxiously killing time until 12:45pm. When you are up at 7am, that is a lot of hours to waste before getting to do what you are looking forward to. Especially when you are an eager eight year old boy.
After the morning drug by, the menfolk departed and I forced the girls outside. They both looked a little rough for riding the old couch all night, but that’s just kinda the effect sleepovers have. No one expects their beauty sleep on a worn out sectional with a large mutt, who insisted on spending half his night sleeping beside one girl, then switching over mid-way and spending the rest of his slumber with the other. They loved it!
After I got off work at 1pm we made a trip to Tractor Supply to pick up a belt I had ordered Girlchild for Christmas. I had no idea how I was going to pick it up with Girlchild in tow during one of our usual treks, when my friend advised me to take both girls together so Girlchild could be distracted by her sleepover buddy. Sleepover buddy was informed of the plan, and played her part flawlessly. I picked up the belt, checked out alone, and Girlchild was none the wiser.
Fast forward past dropping of Girlchild’s friend and heading back to the house, now it’s time to pick up Chickfila. I foolishly thought the Chickfila line would be shorter for a later dinner than an earlier one. I was so, so wrong. We got in line at 6:15p. The line wound past the parking lot and back through an intersection with a set of stop signs, backing up traffic in two directions. It was bad. Though we love the food, this is why we don’t eat much Chikfila in our area.
We got our food at 7pm. Yes, FORTY-FINE minutes in the Chickfila drive through, and Girlchild’s order was wrong. I understand how the employee misunderstood what I said, reviewing the conversation with Girlchild. But either way she ended up with 4 nuggets instead of 4 strips, which is a big deal for a 10yr old girl. SO, we were told to park in a spot and wait, which we did. And she ended up with a free brownie, so Girlchild was thrilled.
After leaving Chickfila, we headed home and set up shop in the basement. Our tradition on these Cub Scout camping weekends is to watch Thirteen Going on Thirty while we ate. Tradition, because this is the second time we’ve done it, naturally. Things were cruising along smoothly until Girlchild got up and went to the bathroom. Along the way she found that nature had called for Grover-dog as well, but in our absence he opted for the hallway. And evidently he was sick.
We gathered up the soiled, stinking carpet and attempt to flop the pile of goo into the toilet. It didn’t work. In major, major ways, did it fail! In various places.
Now Girls Night has turned into a janitorial festival with Girlchild using Lysol and paper towels while I am using Odoban and the hose on the front porch with the contaminated carpet draped across a rocking chair. The night had certainly taken a turn from our original plans!
Leaving the soggy carpet on the front porch I joined Girlchild and clean the bathroom for a second time in 24hrs. The stench was overwhelming, and I used some of the gardenia body spray I handed down to Girlchild just to make it tolerable to breathe. Girlchild was determined to finish her movie as scheduled, so we soldiered on with our estrogen fest and ignored to staggering aroma of mutt gut.
After the movie we headed upstairs and got ready for bed. One of the perks of Daddy being a way as that Girlchild got to bunk with me in the big bed. Grover invited himself to join us, having been forgiven for his illness, and climbed up into the middle of the bed. Then halfway through the night, he threw up in the blankets and got himself uninvited. Then retches again in the hallway during the walk of shame to the backdoor.
Girlchild is sleepy and bleary eyed, only vaguely aware of the situation. So I kept the lights low and did the clean up in the dark, marking this as officially the worst Slumber party I had EVER attended! Then I stepped in another wet spot, and wanted I want to quit adulting.
The next morning I rise early to walk the neighbor’s dog. It’s one street over so I lightly attempt to wake Girlchild, then leave a note on my pillow explaining my whereabouts. I figured she’d still be asleep when I got back. I was wrong.
I was still trying to catch the neighbor’s shy pupper in their living room when Girlchild called me sobbing over being abandoned. Obviously the note had not been found, and she woke up hysterical. Upon hearing of my current situation, she offered to bring Grover down as emotional reinforcement for the scared pup. It worked, thank goodness.
By the time we were done watching church on the couch at home, it was only 10:30am, but felt much later. After two nights of interruptions and hours of sleep deficit, I was on autopilot.
Then the menfolk returned. They were chatty but dragging after a cold night in a tent. Girlchild filled them in on all the fun they had missed here, and wouldn’t you know it, that’s truly all she saw. The good times. The dog vomit, broken sleep, diarrhea team clean-up, parental abandonment, basement stench, and 40hrs in the Chickfila line for a messed up order all fell off the scales as she weighed in on the highlights of her weekend.
She saw the weekend that she wanted to have, and I was happy for her. Something about growing up makes you see more bad than good, but I pray that we all look for the good more often. Because it’s all there if we wanna see it, if we’d just lift our eyes.