We ended up with six 4th graders for the slumber party Friday night. But one couldn’t sleep over, so only five actually stayed overnight. It went smoothly. Loudly but smoothly. Is there something genetic that happens to 4th grade girls when you put a small group of them in close proximity that they are forced to speed up their rate of speech? Then does that increased rate of speech actually fuel their energy levels? We could have powered most of the upper Midwest with the energy produced in our house Friday night. We may have fractured a few noise ordinances too. Not to mention they lose their ability to sit. And if they do, they can’t sit on the parts of the couch that are meant for sitting. I look over into the family room and four of them are lined up sitting on the back of the couch leaning against the wall. Speaking rapidly.
Luckily, at least it appeared to be lucky at the time, Mom suggested that I take Kinsey and Bailey out to dinner to get them out of the way of the older girls. So not only do I avoid discussions about who is the smelliest boy in class but I also get to have nachos.
Kinz and Bails, however were not as excited as I was to leave the house. I’m not real sure why though. Rye was armed with a whole bandolier full of “go away’s” and “leave us alone’s” and was fully prepared to fire them off faster than Jesse Ventura and his mini-gun in Predator. Rye didn’t want them “ruining her slumber party.” And she said so with such conviction that you’d have thought the two little girls had some sort of detailed Kevin McCallister-esque plan to destroy the party.
On the way to the restaurant Kinsey confidently tells me that when she has her own slumber party, she won’t be mean to Bailey like Riley is being to the two of them. She’ll let Bailey play with her friends the whole time. I smiled the grizzled smile of experience. Then I quickly noted the date, time and location and had Kinsey repeat it into a digital voice recorder.
We get to the restaurant and Kinsey, realizing that she’s the biggest sister at the table, tells me that she’ll sit by herself on one side while Bailey and I can sit on the other. Hmm, this is a good sign. Normally they disagree on seating faster than Bo and Luke disagree on which dirt road to take to lose Roscoe.
They transition to debriefing me on some last minute additions to their Christmas lists. Typical stuff: webkinz, barbies, shoes. Again, no Steelers gear. But I rectified that issue by calling Santa up on my cell phone right there at the table and telling him that the girls could use some new Steelers t-shirts.
Kinsey asks, “Did you just talk to Santa!?”
“No, he was too busy, I got some middle manager in the sports merchandise section. Said he was a Master Elf Second Class. Whatever that means. But he added the Steelers stuff to your list so we’ll have to wait until Christmas to see if you get it.”
“Wow,” says Kinsey barely able to form words through her smile.
“So you talked to an elf?” asks Bailey in a slightly puzzled tone.
“Was his voice squeaky?”
“A little bit and it was really noisy. Sounds like they are really busy.”
“Oh man, Christmas is so awesome.”
Anyway, Kinz ordered a hamburger and fries. Bails ordered a pizza which she gets to make herself. The restaurant lets the kids spread the sauce and cheese and then individually place the pepperonis. Bails gives the pepperonis to her sisters because she likes cheese pizza.
Usually when we’re at the restaurant we let Rye take the other two to the bathroom. But I didn’t have Rye. So they went by themselves. Aside from them racing each other back to the table which included Bails using the Henry Hudson searching for the northwest passage strategy of navigating her way through the bar and then back to the table, we didn’t have any issues.
Well, I mean except for the fact that they made Kinz a cheeseburger instead of a hamburger and they lost Bails’ pizza and had to make her a new one. Importance? Kinz evidently doesn’t like cheeseburgers. And Bails doesn’t like pepperonis. Oh and it added an extra 30 minutes to our normal 60 minute restaurant time limit. The girls begin losing access to their behavioral systems controls at about 65 minutes and completely lose volume and motor control at 75 minutes. At 80 minutes something happens to the neural transmitters that communicate the ability to sit on any kind of chair.
Most parents have several strategies to deal with a restaurant screwing up your kid’s food. The first thing to avoid is any sign of panic or distress. You need to be like Marino on 4th down with :42 left in the ’82 Sugar Bowl. Steely eyed and focused.
And lucky. Turns out that while Bailey doesn’t like pepperoni on or near her pizza, she likes cheeseburgers. And while Kinsey doesn’t like cheese on her burgers, she likes pepperoni on her pizza.
Could I really be this lucky?
See even though a logical and simple resolution to our dilemma had presented itself, this resolution involved something known as “sharing.”
So faster than MacGyver can build a hang-glider out of toothpicks and turkey baster, I cut the cheeseburger in half and scraped the cheese off one half and handed to Kinz and gave the other half to Bails. I grabbed all the pizza with pepperoni and gave it to Kinz and left the rest for Bails.
“There. Problem solved. Now eat.”
“Dad, can we have some of your nachos?”