Sussex County Delaware

Big Storm Seemed
Anticlimactic to Us
Sussex Snapshots -- Feb. 21, 2003

SC Online Editor

NOTE: Kerin Magill is Content Editor of Sussex County Online. Her column, "Sussex Snapshots", appears each Thursday on this site.

Kerin Magill, Sussex County Online

For most of Sussex County, the Big Storm began on Saturday night.

At our house, it started Friday. At about 5: 30 p.m., in fact.

That's when six girls between the ages of 6 and 8 arrived at our house for The Sleepover.

First of all, let me say that these events should be called something else. There's little or no actual sleep involved. Secondly, for those of you who are thinking "Six girls? WAY too many!" let me explain my thought process (because there actually WAS one, and at the time it made perfect sense!) I figured ideally, three or four girls would actually come, out of the six we invited.

Note to parents considering a Sleepover: Invite how ever many kids you want to come. That way, if fewer actually show up, you're actually ahead of the game.

Our daughter had been saying for months that she wanted to have a sleepover party for her 8th birthday. I know other parents that have lived through these parties, so I said OK and began to plan.

I figured if I had plenty for them to do, I could keep things under control. After dinner, we had birthday cupcakes and make-your-own sundaes. While I watched seven girls blowing with all their might on the cupcakes' trick candles, it occurred to me that those cupcakes could probably qualify as germ warfare.

The day before, about 20 percent of my daughter's school was absent, mostly due to a nasty stomach bug. I realized I had just willingly let seven girls swap potentially toxic spit in the guise of birthday food. Fortunately, they were more interested in ice cream, and most of the cupcakes were quickly tossed in the trash.

OK, let's see -- what's next on the Master Plan? Ah, the craft project. I had bought oversized white t-shirts for each girl to paint -- and had amassed a collection of fabric paints, markers, stencil's and stamps so varied I could open my own craft store.

This, for me, was the highlight of the evening. To put it simply, the girls were quiet. No squealing or screaming. As long as I kept them supplied with enough clean water to rinse their brushes, they were happily creating their nightshirt masterpieces.

Of course, there a few little spots of paint on the living room sofa that no amount of stain remover will take out (that's why it's called FABRIC paint!). Good thing I was planning to slipcover the sofas anyway!

Next on the Master Plan: a boisterous game of Twister -- I figured it would wear 'em out. Hah. What happened next I was not at all prepared for. All out war with the plastic Twister "board" as the battlefield. I couldn't begin to explain what happened, but believe me, it was ugly. I literally had to separate a couple of the girls before they could hurt each other. OK, on to something else. Quickly.

The girls actually came up with their own activity next. An impromptu concert with songs ranging from "God Bless America" to Britney Spears. The most alarming part of this was listening to the girls "rehearse" upstairs by singing a song whose sole verse seemed to be "Let's get this party started!" That right there -- sung by seven first, second-graders and third graders -- is enough to strike fear into the bravest parent's heart. I still get chills thinking about it.

Oh, and did I mention that each of the girls had tied their pajama tops into a style that reminded me of "South Pacific"? There's something a little bit jarring about that, too.

Anyway -- believe it or not, by about 9 p.m., the girls were ready to settle down to watch videos and munch popcorn. Just like on the Master Plan. GREAT, I thought -- this night might just turn out OK after all. Little did I know they were secretly plotting by that point TO STAY UP ALL NIGHT!

By about midnight, a couple of the girls were asleep, a few others were reading by flashlights and a couple more were chattering non-stop. OK, so things were pretty much on schedule.

Sometime after this point, my husband and I decided to go to bed. I then went into a trancelike state, apparently. I completely missed the part where the 100-pound dog escaped from our bedroom and started pouncing on the nearly sleeping girls. I honestly have no memory of this part. But my husband tells me it resulted in a whole new energy level in The Sleepover Room.

Fast forward to about 2 a.m. -- all quiet on the western front. Then, there's a knock on our bedroom door, and the news that one of the girls "feels like she's gonna throw up." Oh No. Let's just say that I now have a new appreciation for teachers and nurses who have to clean up after other people's sick kids.

By the time the sick one's mom had been called -- I'm glad I wasn't on the receiving end of THAT call at 2 a.m. -- all the other girls were WIDE AWAKE. Fortunately, the second (third? fourth?) wind was short-lived.

The next morning, the little darlings started popping out of their sleeping bags by about 8. Two of them (my daughter was one) informed us proudly that they stayed up until 3:16 a.m. Yikes.

It's been a week -- there are still a few fruit punch stains in the carpet, and we have a collection of little girls' clothes we're still trying to get to their rightful owners.

And we're already planning next year's party. Gosh, ice skating at the Carousel sounds REALLY good.

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