Last weekend, my wife Mel agreed to have a slumber party with our six-year-old and ten-year-old daughters, and I’m not sure what exactly happened in that bedroom, but the banging and screeching sounded like Jurassic Park. According to my girls, there really was only one rule: no boys, something I discovered by disregarding the sign taped to my daughter’s bedroom door that read “pleas knok” to make sure Mel hadn’t been eaten by a velociraptor.
Both girls stopped dancing to some kid pop number as I opened the door. Everyone was in hodgepodge outfits made from princess dresses and Halloween costumes, along with several hats. The floor was a mess of outfits, board games, and naked dolls. Mel herself wore what appeared to be a flower print hat designed for Little House on The Prairie, but her face was far from as tranquil as the Minnesota farmland; rather it held an exasperated mix of fear and maternal duty, and I couldn’t help but wonder what the hell was going on.
Both girls froze, visibly shaken because I was a boy in a no boy zone, and then fell into a cult-like chant of “No boys allowed! No boys allowed!” Considering we live in an age of equality, I probably should’ve felt discriminated against, but after looking at the WTF in Mel’s eyes when I entered, I just let it go.
Now I know what you’re thinking: this does not sound like how you want to spend your quarantine. And I understand. But I also know that ever since things got shut down, Mel and I have struggled to find activities for our children that are safe and don’t revolve around watching endless Netflix. Sure, when this all first happened, I was cool with bending the screen time rules, so we could get working and schooling from home figured out. But we are several months in, and states are just kinda-sorta starting to open up, and frankly the whole family is going a little stir crazy.
So in an effort to make the best of a bad situation, we have done a number slumber parties with our kids.
Each weekend, we find a new location. We have camped in the backyard a few times. That was particularly fun because Mel and I finally had time to install that backyard fire pit. We’ve had a lot of extra time since all the kid’s sports have been canceled. We roasted marshmallows and told stories, and laughed — all of it feeling like camping, but without actually having to pack anything up.
We’ve also slept on the trampoline, which I will admit was not awesome for my back.
I realize that not everyone has the luxury of an outdoor space, but the beauty of these slumber parties is that they can be held literally anywhere. Twice now, we have set up a tent in the living room for the kids to sleep in. We’ve slept in each child’s room. To be honest, at this point, we are starting to run out of different rooms to sleep in.
Now, keep in mind that not the whole family has been down with this slumber party idea. My daughters can’t get enough of it, but my thirteen year old son is… well… he’s pretty cool right now, and getting him involved in anything is a heavy lift. However, the night when we all slept in the living room and watched The Rise of Skywalker, he fell asleep in the easy chair, a bowl of melting ice cream in his lap — and to be honest, I think that means he attended the slumber party.
These slumber parties have been the highlight of a pretty stressful time for our children. They have brought us closer together as a family, while also giving the kids something to look forward to when it seems like most things they enjoy have been canceled.
Now, back to that girls-only slumber party I discussed at the beginning. I went to bed that night, listening to two little girls giggling. I did feel a little left out, but I was also grateful to be sleeping in my own bed. Mel slept late the next morning, and once she did make it to the kitchen, she held a hung-over hue, letting me know that it must have been a real bender.
The girls told me non-stop stories of how awesome their slumber party was with Mom, and I said something that I might end up regretting. “I’m kind of jealous that I didn’t get to go.” My girls looked at each other, then they smiled, and said, “Next weekend it’s a dad-only slumber party.”
Mel looked at me with a half grin that seemed to say, “Buckle up, buddy.”
I smiled at Mel, and then at my girls, and agreed. And although it wasn’t going to happen for another week, they both ran upstairs to plan the festivities. Pray for me.