This is Lucy's birthday week. She wanted to have a sleepover party with two friends. Because there are only 5 girls in her class, I felt terrible excluding some of them. As a child who was excluded (or at least, felt lonely) for much of my childhood, I am probably overly sensitive - but still. I asked if she would invite all the girls, as a favor to me.
I will regret that forever, don't you worry.
She was hesitant. Said she wanted to think about it. There was a decided lack of enthusiasm, and I can understand why - there is no rule that you have to like everyone, or get along with everyone - she has two close friends, and I was asking her to invite children she did not know as well, children that she had never had a sleepover (or even a playdate) with. She was markedly unenthusiastic. I didn't push her, but I was hoping she would come around.
At some point the girls in class realized that Lucy's birthday was coming up, and began to curry favor - writing stories that extolled the virtues of Lucy's friendship and the adventures they share. Drawing pictures to give to her. Inviting her to play. She seemed a little confused, but rolled with it - I mean, who doesn't like being wooed? Eventually, she agreed that she didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings, and that all of the girls could be invited. And why not - they were all being so lovely.
Friday afternoon, I picked up a few of the guests from school. The baby talk and catty commentary from one of the girls began before I pulled out of the parking lot, and it took all of my strength not to pull over and drop off the source on the side of the road. Lucy gave me a look via the rear view mirror that said something along the lines of "I told you this was a bad idea" and all I could do was avoid eye contact and hope we could still have a nice little party. But she knew. This was gong to be a total shit show
When we got home, the kids piled out, and I started to prepare a snack. The mail was sitting on the counter and I flipped through it quickly, stopping at the fat envelope from the IRS.
Um. Not good. Thick envelopes from the IRS are NOT GOOD.
I opened it, and within 5 minutes I was experiencing a full-blown panic attack, climbing into the attic searching for our 2010 tax return. Max came to inquire about the snack - how was that coming along? He saw me frantically digging through a file folder and grabbed an apple, than backed away slowly. Then the girls came out. Five minutes, I told them from the attic. Give me 5 minutes.
I climbed down with an armful of paperwork, finished making their snack, then went back to searching the statements and receipts. My heart was still pounding. Sam came in and announced he was leaving for band practice. Two more girls arrived, and one of them was not wearing black and white, which apparently was some sort of theme that I was not aware of. Catty baby talk girl called her out on it immediately. I restrained myself from texting her mother and rescinding the invite as I dug out two or three black and white dresses in case they wanted to wear them.
And then I took a Xanax. Which was, it turned out, some excellent planning on my part.
I made dinner, the girls watched a movie. All along, there was the baby talk and the catty comments which Lucy gamely tried to deflect. But at times, it just exceeded her ability to moderate. I had to spend a lot of time giving girls the eyebrow, or telling them to change the subject, or their tone, or the octave in which they were speaking. There was a heated discussion when one of the girls insisted she had not attended her parent's wedding. "Well, you were in your mother's belly" catty baby talk girl said, in the most condescending tone I have ever heard from a 7 year old. "No, no I wasn't" came the reply. "I wasn't born until much later." she said resolutely. "You were a twinkle" the girl informed her regally, in a way that made it clear that she was intimately aware of the bride's maternal status 7 years ago. "No, I wasn't. They didn't know anything about me" the poor kid defended herself. One of the other girls told the story about attending her parents wedding a few years ago. "Everyone's parents got married on the beach!" someone declared. Which was true, except for the girl who's parents had never gotten married.
I couldn't take it anymore. Were they really going to give some kid a hard time because she wasn't conceived until after her parents were married, like that made her some kind of oddball? And I certainly didn't want to get into a conversation about why one girl's parents weren't married at all - this was not the time for that discussion. And sure, I got married barefoot on the beach - which was clearly part of a huge trend I knew nothing about at the time - but didn't anyone get married indoors anymore? As they launched into a conversation about how long their parents had known each other before they got married, I sensed that things were going in the wrong direction for a casual pizza dinner.
"You know" I interrupted. "sometimes people get married years before they have children. Years! And they get married on the beach or in houses or their yard, or even in churches! And some people never get married at all! WHO WANTS MORE PIZZA?"
I said that last line with finality, indicating that this topic was now closed.
The children returned to their pizza, the smartass looking at me dubiously.
At about 9pm, I sent everyone off to bed and washed all of our plates and silverware for the second time that day. At 9:15 one of the girls came down to the living room. I couldn't understand all of what she said, but it was something about a bloody nose. I jumped up, put Dude in his Exersaucer, grabbed a box of tissues, and ran after her down the hall.
There was a trail of blood, and at the end of it all six girls were crowded into the bathroom. My freshly cleaned, white tiled bathroom. At the center of the huddle was one little girl, her head held over the white sink which was full of blood. The white floor was also sporting a fair amount. The contrast of the bright red blood on the gleaming white tile was shocking. I said a silent prayer of thanks that I had already taken a Xanax.
"Wow." I said, because it was the only G rated comment I could come up with. "Okay, everyone go back to bed. Wait, is there blood in the bed? You stay RIGHT THERE" I instructed the bleeder. I ran down the hall, carefully avoiding the spatters, and searched the bed which was - remarkably - pretty clear.
I ran back to the bathroom, where the blood was still flowing. "Wow." I said again. "Okay, listen. Here's some tissues. Can you just pinch your nose for a minute while I get some towels?" She nodded silently, staring down at the bright red puddle in the sink.
I'm okay with blood, as a rule. Vomit? No. Broken bones? Can't help you. Diarrhea? That sounds like a personal problem to me. But blood I am not squeamish about. I don't like dealing with blood, but I can if I need to - and clearly, I needed to. This was a lot of fucking blood. I found some towels and texted her mom that we had a serious bloody nose going on. I got a text back that said "Can you call me?"
Actually, no. No I cannot. Because, you see, I have 6 girls totally freaked out, one of them covered in blood, and I really have to clean up all of this fucking blood right now. Maybe we can chat a little later. The phone dinged again, one of the other moms just checking in. "Everything okay? Girls asleep? Want me to swing by?"
My text back to her said something like "OH MY GOD SO MUCH BLOOD."
She was there in 5 minutes with a bottle of wine. She held Dude, I paced and told her about the day, and about the mean girls that I had forced Lucy to invite, and the argument at dinner.
At 10:30 several of the girls began coming out, one after the other, to complain that one of the girls wouldn't stop talking, and that another girl was pinching people. I went into the room each time, telling people to stop talking, keep their hands to themselves, try to go to sleep, etc. etc. I finally had to move Lucy to my bed because she was so upset that one of the girls would not shut up so she could go to sleep, and I had to send the pincher to a sofa alone in the TV room.
Lucy cried herself to sleep.
The next morning dawned at 6am. I know this because the girls were already awake and complaining about stuff. I really cannot over-state how much whining and baby talk emanated from two of the girls in the 20 hours they were with me. It wasn't occasional, it wasn't cute - it was constant and grating and awful and the other girls just sat there waiting for the few whiners to shut up so they could get back to having fun. But it was difficult to have fun around some of these kids. They spent a lot of time ordering people around, pouting when they didn't get their way, making snotty comments, saying hurtful things, and acting like babies. I mean that literally. Actually sucking their thumbs and saying "Whaa whaaa" instead of speaking. One of the girls came out and said in a high pitched infantile voice "Can me pwease have back my wittle bag?" Lucy had just taken the little drawstring pouch that her gift - a necklace - had come in, filled it with silver, star shaped confetti that sh wanted to save, and put it on the counter for safekeeping. And now this girl wanted it back. I think she really just wanted the confetti.
I said "Well, that isn't really how that works, it's supposed to be used to store the necklace, to keep it from getting tangled." I explained. She made a sour face and turned on her heel, stomping away. A few of the girls came by giggling. "I'm not playing with you." she proclaimed loudly, then went and sat on Lucy's bed and pouted. I emptied the necklace and the confetti onto the counter and brought it into Lucy's room. "There you go." I said with a smile as I handed it over. She glared at me.
The parents began arriving at 10:30. By 11am all but on of the girls was gone. When her mother finally arrived at 11:15, Lucy came out of her room crying, with the last guest trailing behind. "What happened?" I asked. Lucy tried to catch her breath "She bit my new shirt and ripped it" she wailed. The hem of her shirt was frayed and slightly torn. I stood there and stared. "She what?" I said incredulously.
"I didn't mean to bite it so hard!" the little girl said by way of explanation.
And that, I think, summed up the weekend nicely. I didn't mean for it to bite so hard.
And also, half of my forks are missing.
20 hours ago