Excerpts from the sleepover journal
I never attended many sleepovers when I was a kid, nor do I go to many now as an adult because that would be considered weird. Just me showing up at a buddy’s house with my Superman sleeping bag and a VHS copy of “Rudy.”
Me: “I can’t wait to stay up past the bedtimes our wives put us on and tell secrets!”
Though there would be a 90 percent chance we’d fall asleep by 8:30 p.m. because that’s what our stupid bodies think is a rockin’ time, even before we finished our first juice box.
When my wife offered our seven-year-old the option of inviting three of her friends over for her birthday, I was immediately nervous and out of my element.
Unsure of what this whole thing was about I documented the event. Below are a few excerpts.
Entry 1: Daughter is pacing back and forth in the entryway like a golden retriever puppy waiting for someone to throw the ball. For fun every 15 seconds I shout, “I think I hear someone!” to which daughter jumps up and looks out front door. Upon learning this isn’t the case, shouts, “Dad! That’s NOT FUNNY!” Yet she looks every time. This is my hobby now.
Entry 2: Daughter embraced friends as though they had just escaped prison three weeks ago and agreed our house is where they’d rendezvous. One is really tall. She’s really only seven? I have my suspicions. Everybody has to pee. One was starting at me. I wasn’t comfortable with the awkward silence so I greeted her with, “Welcome to our homestead.” She kept staring. Eventually she was retrieved by the others and they bounded off to do whatever girls do, presumably morph into tiny unicorns that eat nothing but feed bags full of candy corn.
Entry 3: It’s like a live-action “Trolls” movie. They are running around the house giggling, hugging and it’s making me uncomfortable. I asked my wife if we should check them for barbiturates. When she asked if I even knew what barbiturates were, I admitted I didn’t and she said they were actually “downers.” So not only does my house sound like someone is pushing a grocery cart full of Furbeys through a revolving door but my wife may be a drug dealer. Everybody has to pee. I think the tall one is taller than when she first arrived.
Entry 4: What am I supposed to be? I feel like I’m some kind of weird alien just learning how to work language and my body. I just asked daughter and her friends, “What form of foodstuff snacks do you lady girls desire?” Daughter responded, “What?” To which I replied, “YOU are.” Then I left.
I’m 95 percent sure the tall one can probably dunk.
There’s a girl in every one of our bathrooms.
Entry 5: They all want cheese pizza, but not the crusts “because gross,” except for one who will only eat watermelon. I don’t know how to deal with this. I think the tall one ate four slices and may have finished the paper plate. I’m officially scared of her. One girl has been in the bathroom for over 20 minutes. I’m only annoyed because that’s my shtick.
Entry 6: Our four-year-old son is doing his best impression of a remora, the thing that attaches itself to sharks, though I doubt remoras swim around in a giant tiger head asking if all the sharks want to see its booty. But what do I know, this Discovery Channel episode on sharks hasn’t gotten that far yet.
Entry 7: I keep hearing weird giggling and stomping around. It’s like living in a house with David Blaine: you know something weird is happening but you have no idea what. I asked my wife if we need to offer them pizza rolls. When she asked why I told her it’s because “That’s what I thought happens at sleepovers” when in actuality I just wanted pizza rolls. When she mentioned that we “just had pizza” she said it like that was supposed to be a deterrent from pizza rolls and now I’m wondering if any of these girls’ parents is a divorce lawyer.
Entry 8: Either I’m getting shorter or the tall one is getting taller. I went to get the fly swatter on top of the refrigerator because kids are deathly afraid of closing screen doors. When I turned my back to get a step stool I suddenly needed the tall one had it in her hands. If you told me she’s part giraffe I’d believe it. I have to pee but that’s not going to happen with the conference call the girls seem to be having in there.
Entry 9: I am building a blanket fort for four girls. I didn’t sign up for this. When I build forts, they’re for me to watch He-Man. They don’t want to watch He-Man. I’m just to build the thing and leave like I’m Habitat for Humanity. Who am I, Jimmy Carter? If they expect me to put a bathroom in they can forget it.
Entry 10: It’s so late it’s early. The girls should be asleep somewhere. I should be asleep somewhere. Instead I’m fixing a stupid fort. They’re trying to decide on which movie to watch. I’ve seen easier hostage negotiations. I asked my wife if it was OK to offer the girls turkey with a side of Tylenol PM but apparently that’s not allowed. One of the girls left, presumably because she couldn’t stand such excellent hospitality. Wife said no, it’s because she missed her mom. Spent the rest of the night asking the other girls all about their moms like I’m the host of some weird game of Survivor. Of course the tall one is still here being intimidating. I should probably turn off the ceiling fan. I don’t want her to get a concussion just from standing up.
Entry 11: It’s 11:47 p.m. and everyone is finally quiet. They’re either asleep or plotting. I’m not about to find out which. Most importantly, I finally get to pee and it’s the greatest thing.
Kelly Van De Walle can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org