by Lisa

My kid had a sleepover last week.  We do sleepovers well, I think.

First, let me deal with the issue of actual sleep.  It happens.  She’s seven going on eight, so when mama gets sleepy, everyone is usually sleepy, too.  Easy. I say, “Start thinking about getting yourselves to bed,” and they begin elaborate tent-building and bed-making in another room, robbing the other tents like raiding Huns.

The living room has already been completely tented out by this point.  Fortresses of sheets and couch pillows and pilfered kitchen chairs make the room impassable to anyone but a four-and-a-half-foot-tall child or a very flexible grownup.  Thank goodness I’m flexible, so I can still respond to the call, “Come in here with us!”

Those requests are numbered.

Snacks happen on no particular schedule, and food is allowed anywhere but the actual bed.  Ever try to get the smell of smooshed watermelon out of a mattress?  We don’t drink real milk here at the cottage, but when milk was a part of our lives, it was also banned from the bed.  Worse than watermelon, man.

I taper off the chocolate opportunities as the evening wears on, and begin to turn off a lamp, here and there, and yawns happen.

“You busy ladies sure have done a lot today.  Look at this amazing fortress!  You carried these chairs from the kitchen all by yourselves!  Such strong muscles!”  They show off those muscles, and brag about how heavy the coffee table was, when they had to scoot it across the room.  The chairs, they were nothin’.

“I’m going to probably land on my face if I try to walk through here in the dark tonight, so you might want to put some things back where they were.”  Cue groans.

“Okay, I’ll straighten up in here, but it’s time to get your beds ready.  Where are you sleeping?  Big bed or floor bed?” We have a futon minus frame that gets stashed under the bed for sleepovers.  I got tired of hearing small bodies hit the ground like sacks of taters.  They all kick at this age.  Fortunately, they also sleep through falling out of bed, but I still don’t like it.

They rush to the bedroom to choose the placement of the floor bed, and more tentmaking begins.  Now, this house is not big, and we don’t have a linen closet, so the whole of our tent-building supplies fit into one big drawer or are in use around the house.  The living room tents are plundered mercilessly for sheets and pillows, and I quietly shuffle chairs back to the rooms where they began.

And damn, that coffee table is really heavy, but they help with the scooting, muscles bulging in those twiggy little arms.  The cat helps by bolting from one end of the room to the next, thrilled by the flipping and dragging of blankets.

So, I am left with a room without pillows, blankets, couch cushions, or sheets.  The heavy underpinnings of the hastily broken camp stay.

I could call this a mess.  Most of you would call this a mess.  I still see the little girls stretching their whole selves, physical and mental, to make a refuge-within-a-home, trying one way and then another when it falls on their heads.  They work it through.  Sheets become vaulted ceilings and pillows become plush thrones and lounges.

This morning, I sit in the darlingly ugly recliner and look at the aftermath, and listen to the cat trill over a dropped shiny girl-thing: a plastic ruby ring as big as a silver dollar.  I soak up the energy those happy small people left behind.  The floor of her bedroom has disappeared under tent makings crashed down by that busy cat, but she’ll get a little laugh about that when she comes home from her grandma’s house.

Blessed, blessed, blessed, and blessed.