I’ve long been longing to have the grandchids sleep over since, it seems, almost forever. Granted, they are quite young. Ollie and his sister Sadie are 3 1/2 and 2 1/2, respectively, and almost inseparable. We added Hens, aged 3, to the mix as well — he lives just a stone’s throw away. My logic was safety in numbers, they would bolster one another if afraid or lonely.
I’ve been scheming since last November, when I purchased inflatable toddler beds and youth sleeping bags on black Friday sales. This past week I picked up a twin inflatable mattress, a third youth sleeping bag, and an extra- large pool noodle at a local store. Pops inflated the mattresses. I washed and dried all the sleeping bags. Then I set them up, side by side, on the rug in the guest suite alcove. Perfect fit.
We left the wedding bar-b-que with two grands in tow; the third joined us shortly after we got home. Pops made popcorn to get the party started. For several hours they played together so nicely, sharing miniature farm animals and implements, storing hay as wooden blocks stacked in the barn. They boys were glad for Sadie’s help when wasn’t tending her baby dolls. But as we know, babies are a a lot of work and she kept quite busy between blankets, bottles, and rocking chair. Even bath time was a breeze — except that Sadie wanted to swim. It was a little tight in her pond.
Finally, finally! it was bed time. We’d kept them up a bit late by normal standards, assuming that would make it easier to settle down and conk out. We all trooped upstairs with requisite nighttime gear — water bottles, soft blankies of all shapes and sizes, favorite stuffed animals, a pile of books, extra pillows and more blankets. They settled down without any trouble, each taking an air mattress and sleeping bag, snugged up side-by-side.
Settled for all of about ten minutes, that is, and then the fun began. I need a drink. I need a snack. I need a snack, too. Hey, where are you going, GiGi? I have pee coming! Can I pee in my pull-up? I want to pee on the potty. (Now all three are up and we troop into the bathroom for one to pee.) Will you read us a story? (A Fly Went By. Then we said prayers.) I don’t want this blankie. I don’t need Lambie! I want my baby. Where’s my water?
One after another they’d hop up to find what they needed, sleeping bags and blankets askew as they tramped from one bed to the next, tumbling and stumbling on the uneven air mattress chambers. The image going through my mind was of the arcade game Whack-a-Mole. One pops up and then another and then another. You cannot predict the order or outcome. It was truly comical.
In the middle of all of this, Henry’s mama shows up to check on him. I was flabbergasted: are you kidding me? I thought that would surely end it. But no, Henry assured her he was fine and escorted her to the bedroom door. He said he needed to get to sleep! Sadie wondered if her mommy and daddy were coming to check on her?
Shortly thereafter, Pops started to snore on the hardwood floor. Initially, he was trying to fake them out, pretending to be asleep, assuming they’d settle down. Well, the joke’s on GiGi. We spent the next hour stepping over and around him and trying not to wake him up because, unlike the GiGi, Pops did have to get up and go to work in the morning.
Meanwhile, the hooligans show no signs of settling down. I’ve turned off the TV, finally. (Yes, a little slow on the draw there.) I’ve pulled the shades. (It’s too dark.) I’ve turned on a nightlight. (It’s too bright.) I’ve moved the nightlight. (Still too bright.) I’ve turned off the nightlight but turned on a bathroom light. (Where are you going, GiGi?)
I realize this is never going down with each in their own bed, so I pull the pool noodle from the closet to slip under the fitted sheet and provide a bumper at the far side of the bed. But the little rascals caught sight of that pool noodle and were on it in a flash, hanging like monkeys on a branch as I dragged it across the room. I was trying hard to stifle my giggles while I insisted they stop, settle down, back to bed!
Sadie joined me in my bed. Then she wanted to rock. Then she settled back in her bed … but Ols needed to snug. Hens joined us in the rocking chair. (Hey, what are you guys doing?) Then Sadie was back up, looking for comfort. I began bribing them shamelessly with offers of treats in the morning, breakfast with cousins Rosie and Anna, whatever I could think of … if they would just settle down! (What kind of treats, Gigi?)
I moved their mattresses to the open area near my bed. Pops was alone in the alcove, snoring. Ols said he couldn’t sleep with Pops snoring. Ols joined Sadie and GiGi in the big bed. Hens joined us in the big bed. We positioned sideways to fit better, the four of us, and that doggone pool noodle like a hard pillow for GiGi. Then Hens went back to his bed. Ols went looking for a bed. Hens offered to share his bed with Ollie. Ols settled in Sadie’s bed as Sadie was still in bed with GiGi.
Then Hens said those fateful words, “I want to go home.”
Sadie chimed in. “I want to go home.”
Oh, how GiGi’s heart sank! You can probably guess how it went from there.
The irony is that Hens was ready — not because he was afraid or lonely but — because he was tired. Go figure. “It’s too noisy there,” he explained to his mama as they trudged back through the long grass in the dark, past the lilacs and birches, upstairs to Hens’ own quiet bedroom.
Only Ollie did not want to go home, which blessed my heart and broke it at the same time.
An epic fail. GiGi is a sleepover failure! I know we’ll try again when the time is right. Probably when the parents need us to have them overnight. I gather that it’d be a hard sell any other way. ;/0
Meanwhile, GiGi needs redemption. It’s small consolation that this need for redemption is nothing new. I need redemption in one form or another on nearly any given day. Such is life, eh?
~ René Morley