Months ago, my friends, Holly and Michelle, and I came up with a creative solution to the scheduling conflict that is our children’s birthdays.
My twins and their sons all have birthdays about a week apart. These four kids have been good buddies since they were three-years-old, but they’ve never attended each other’s birthdays because they’re all so close together.
“Why not throw a joint party?” the moms decided. “We will do it at Pump It Up. We will share the hosting duties and make the whole thing easier on ourselves and our guests. We will do a superhero-Tangled theme and everyone will love it.”
Pump It Up isn’t really Elisabeth’s idea of a good time, so us moms decided we would also add a little sleepover onto the party. The girls would come back to Tangled’s house for nail-paiting and “slumbering.” The boys would go home with Batman (Cooper) for boy shenanigans and slumbering.
For weeks and weeks, Sam and Elisabeth looked forward to the party–and especially the sleepover. Catie and I helped Elisabeth order decorations and Chinese lanterns to launch and Elisabeth did little girl things like washed her nightgown three weeks before the party.
Over the next few weeks, I realized we may have some problems with the parties…
1. The African Children’s Choir would be here the week of the parties. We would be right in the middle of life with Nina and Patience, our girls from Uganda. Somehow, an excessive Western-style slumber party for a six-year-old didn’t seem to fit with that tone.
2. Even more of a conflict, the African Children’s Choir’s big concert would be the same night as the Pump It Up party and the sleepover. Like the concert time would totally overlap with both the sleepover and the Pump It Up party. Oops.
3. Were Sam and Elisabeth (and their friends) old enough for a sleepover? When Catie was six, we wouldn’t have dreamed of her doing a sleepover. Could these little kids handle it? Would we have to deal with middle-of-the-night pick-ups?
4. I didn’t realize it until the day of the parties, but the violent stomach bug had targeted our family. It was about to take us DOWN.
5. Our family was already tired. M stayed up half the night making party favors. Because of his mounting fatigue, he burned the dining room table. I hit the neighbor’s car. We were already running on fumes. Throwing in another crazy day/night seemed dumb. (See #4. This fatigue is surely what opened the door for the tummy bug to walk right through and live at our house).
Because of all this, I was getting nervous about the parties. The more I privately second-guessed all these parties during such a hectic week, the more our kids publicly celebrated the idea of two parties as THE BEST DAY EVER.
Second-guessing the idea, I frantically started to change plans. I asked a friend to take Nina and Patience for the night. I told the VBS Director we couldn’t make the concert. Moms of the sleepover girls called to say their daughters were nervous about sleeping over, and I said, “YOU SHOULD GO HOME EARLY. DON’T SLEEP OVER!” When Nate started throwing up on Tuesday, I told the moms they didn’t have to come to the sleepover at all.
In the end, I couldn’t stand to send Nina and Patience to another house, so we kept them with us. Our kids didn’t want to miss the chance to sing with the African Children’s Choir, so they went to the concert. Even when Catie’s stomach soured and so did mine, and I knew we had the stomach flu, we limped through the parties and concert.
There was a moment when I was throwing up in the bathroom, while cleaning up Catie’s throw up, that I really doubted we had made the right decision.
The below picture is the perfect visual representation of the night: my friend, Jen, leading the nail-painting fun for me so I could take a breather (and a picture). Also, this is how Catie felt throughout the sleepover fun: blurry and not really there.
Even with all this drama, the parties were an overall success. I didn’t need to worry that the Western excess and absurdity of a six-year-old slumber party would upset Nina and Patience. They loved every minute, especially helping Elisabeth open her gifts and helping the little girls paint their nails.
The ACC concert was amazing, and our kids loved the chance to sing with them. All the birthday kids had a fantastic time at Pump It Up–even more so since they were with all their friends.
And even though most of the slumber party guests did go home before they slumbered, they had a wonderful time.
Sam, incidentally, had the best time at Cooper’s house. One important lesson we learned from this crazy day was that Sam is a natural slumber party guest. He’s already ready for the next one.
Other lessons we learned would include: check your calendar carefully before you commit to hosting a party; if the stomach flu is going around, get some sleep and wash your hands; don’t iron on the dining room table; look twice for cars when backing out of the driveway, especially if you have seven kids in your car and you only slept a couple hours the night before; everything is more fun with friends; and sometimes it’s easier to follow the plan than it is to cancel it all.
But the most important lesson our family would like to share is this: if you ever get a chance to host kids from the African Children’s Choir, say yes. You’re never too busy to meet some of the most outstanding children in the world.