Saturday, June 9, 2007

The Sixteen-Hour Playdate

It's been a week of milestones around here. Leaving preschool was the biggie. The next milestone, a smaller one, was that Sam had his first sleepover. And by sleepover, I mean that he had a buddy come over for the night.

Preschool Friend came over at about 6 p.m. Sam and Friend ran downstairs immediately to get Sam's sleeping bag. Friend's mom barely got a goodbye, much less a hug or a kiss. So much for anxiety. We definitely picked a sleepover pro for our first try.

Quinn wanted to go to the basement too, so I followed him downstairs and hung out with the big kids, who had created a game called "Headsmasher" that involved sliding head-first down our small slide into a pile of beanbags. Jack was injured shortly thereafter, not playing Headsmasher, but rather by trying to copy Sam and Friend's jump off the top of the slide to the pile of beanbags. Jack didn't spend much time with the two of them after that.

Now, I should mention that between 5 and 6, the day had turned from hot and sunshiny to dark and thunderstormy. When the lights flickered for the first time Sam and Friend were inspired to tun off all the lights in the basement. Of course, in my basement you have to turn each of about seven different lights off separately by pulling strings attached to bare lightbulbs. (I know, I live in a palace.) So Friend devised an elaborate plan involving standing on multiple beanbags and an inflatable pillow while trying to grab the string (which, by the way, had been tied up to prevent children from doing this very thing) with a pair of plastic toy pliers.

Bear in mind that I stood by to watch all of this. I try to let Sam and friends attempt things as long as they don't seem crazy-dangerous. I don't think this qualified. They were standing on something soft after all.

Anway, pizza followed, as did Alex's soggy return home from work. Did I mention that he commutes by motorcycle? "Things did not go awesomely on the way home," he reported. As an omen of things to come he mentioned that there were power outages affecting traffic lights on his drive home.

Friend came upstairs to use the bathroom and on his way back through the living room pulled the entire Star Wars trilogy out of his bag to ask, "Is Sam allowed to watch this?"

Oh.

I guess I'm not allowed to try to put them to bed at 7:30, like usual. So I let them play for a while longer and when Sam came running in holding his sleeping bag and asking, "When is it bedtime?" I offered to let them watch Star Wars. I popped popcorn, got the guys cups of water and put on The Empire Strikes Back prompting Friend to comment, "This is the life." (Instead of "Friend" I almost called him "Precocious".)

Alex settled in next to them and filled the role of anti-spoiler fanboy, while Friend, who has apparently seen this movie a lot before, told us the details of the story slightly before it happened. He gave a long expository on Luke's escape from the snow monster, to which Sam replied, "I want to see that!" After some of Friend's specious observations about the film, Alex commented to me, "It appears he has critical facts about the movie wrong."

But their interest waned and we turned it off after about a half hour. Then the power abruptly went out and all hell broke loose for awhile as flashlights and lanterns were found. I was pleased to discover that Friend is not afraid of the all-encompassing dark. Jack, however, is. Although it manifested itself as a tantrum over only being able to get water from the sink and not the refrigerator door. Ever the opportunists, Sam and Friend took advantage of the power outage as a popcorn opportunity. After retreating to Sam's room, Friend asked, "Why don't you leave snacks here to calm us?" (Do you ever listen to a child speak and distinctly hear his mother instead?)

After about a half hour the power came back on. There was a lot of jumping around and celebrating—a substantial amount of which was done by me. Honestly, there are few things that give me the heebie jeebies more than my power being out. Among other things I can FEEL my ice cream melting. And, folks, you don't fuck with my ice cream. All told, the power stayed off just long enough for it to be sort of fun.

Then, for the next THREE HOURS they continued to play, sneak around, and totally dismantle Sam's room. At midnight I finally separated them (they were having an argument about who was in charge) by putting Sam on the top bunk and then giving them both books. At my 12:25 a.m. bed check they were asleep.

They slept 'til 9 a.m., ate pancakes, and played nicely until Friend's mom arrived at 10:15. I was very excited by this rousing success and hope that when Sam goes to Friend's house it will go as "smoothly" (do power outages count as smooth?) last night. 'Cause all things considered, I prefer a 12:25 a.m. bedtime to a 4:15 a.m. wake-up call because of a bad dream in a strange house.

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