Christa Gala: Just say no to slumber parties

July 22, 2013 

My husband refuses to go camping.

Every time I ponder the idea of camping, which we’ve never done, he states simply: “I do not camp.”

When our son Tyler was in first grade, I mentioned Boy Scouts, only to be met with, again, “I do not camp.”

He’s not angry about it; it’s just a calm declaration, as if I’ve forgotten something important about his DNA.

Since then, I have been smitten with the idea of declaring things that I simply do not do. It’s actually pretty liberating.

My list so far: wearing pantyhose, ironing and weeding. Recipes with more than five ingredients. Spanx. Bungee jumping. Jam-making.

It’s occurred to me that I could be falling into a new category defined simply as lazy, but I decided to go ahead and add one more thing to the list: slumber parties.

We’ve had one kid spend the night on two occasions and, frankly, it’s just too much of a commitment – the whole overnight thing, dinner, activities, breakfast the next morning.

Asleep at midnight and up at 5 a.m. Yeah, where do I not sign up for that?

But when my son turned 10 on the 10th of the month (that only happens once in your life), we wanted to do something special; I’m not a total slacker.

So we took 11 10-year-old boys to one of those fun parks in Raleigh with laser tag, go-carting, mini golf and those evil arcades where the machines spit out tickets so you can pay 8 bucks for a 4-cent toy from China.

The ride out there was nerve-wracking. My husband and I each drove a car full of boys.

I swear I had my hands in the 10-and-two position the entire time. Everyone got there safely, and I somehow dodged answering repeated inquiries about the definition of the word “horny.”

Don’t ask. I have no idea how it came up. I’m just grateful I escaped. Can you imagine the phone calls if I had not?

The next two hours were a whirlwind of activities, and the boys just loved it. It was a joy to see them all laughing and darting from one activity to the next, and by the time we got to the party room for pizza, cake and presents, they were more than ready to hit the arcade, which is more or less where things began to fall apart.

There, I discovered I had a special talent for holding tickets, plastic toys and candy. Soon it was time to leave, but of course we had to wait for all the boys to cash out their tickets. It took so long that the boys who had gone first wanted to exchange their toys for different toys.

I fought the urge to shout, “All sales are final!” and instead engaged in a campaign to convince those boys they had the best toys of all.

We finally began ushering all the boys outside to the cars, where I learned the real meaning of the expression “herding cats.”

We had seven boys outside and four inside. The hub was charged with watching the seven while I went back in to retrieve the other four.

He failed miserably, because two followed me back inside without either of us noticing. I got the four I was looking for, only to return and find we were missing two. I went back in and two more followed me, so we were back where we started.

That was when I started bellowing “Everyone out!” and “Walk toward the door!” with cupped hands.

We got them all home safe and sound and heaved huge sighs of relief, the cars littered with plastic army men and packs of Sweet Tarts.

So, will I be adding birthday parties to my list of things I don’t do?

Nah. Eleven boys with ticket mania were still easier than an all-nighter. The tickets, though, are a serious contender.

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