About six months ago my lovely (and dangerous) wife made the mistake of asking our niece what she would like to do for her tenth birthday party. The wise thing would have been to tell her what we were doing for her party, not asking for trouble. But we learn these lessons the hard way around here, and this was one of them.
Sarah told us about a birthday party she had attended at a local hotel, and about how wonderful everything was at this other girl's party. She went on and on (and on...) discussing the indoor pool, the pay-per-view movie they watched in their room that night, the gourmet breakfast buffet they enjoyed the following morning... and before she was done with her presentation, Sarah had made up her mind that a sleepover at the same hotel was EXACTLY what she wanted for her own birthday party.
And so it came to pass that two rapidly aging guardians of a hyper child came to host a birthday party at Embassy Suites this past weekend. Sarah was allowed to invite four of her closest friends (who also turned out to be her four loudest friends, but more on that later...) and we met up with everyone at the hotel precisely at check-in time. We had purchased a birthday cake from Publix, complete with a faux jeweled tiara, and loaded up goody bags for all of the girls that included fingernail polish (whose fucking idea was THAT?), confetti, rolls of decorative streamers, and all sorts of other loot we would have to clean up later.
As the other parents dropped off their girls at the front lobby, each of them smiled knowingly at us and said, "Good luck!" There was something ominous about the way they all seemed in on something no one had told us... But we thought to ourselves, "How tough can it be?"
Lemme tell you how tough it can be. First of all, the same kids who might be the most attentive little darlings in the world individually, morph into wild-eyed, hearing impaired, jabbering Energizer Bunnies when left with other like minded children whose parents are no longer on the scene. It was immediately apparent that our voices couldn't penetrate the Cone of Silence force field projected by their own combined vocal chord cacophony. Nothing we said got through, at least not on the first or second shout. We would have to literally bang on an inanimate object to get their undivided attention, and even then our window of opportunity for communication was less then five seconds. After six seconds, there was no way to make ourselves heard.
I've not spent any time with amphetamine addicts, but I imagine even meth junkies and crackheads can hear one another. Ten year-old girls in groups of more than four might as well be speaking another language, one that can only be understood by others if projected in a sonic wave level that would rival a police siren in a tunnel. These kids couldn't wait to tell one another everything that popped into their heads, simultaneously, and for hours.
We let them decorate their hotel room, which mean taping up streamers across the walls and lamps, scattering confetti all over the tables, blowing up balloons, and distributing party favors. Within two minutes their room looked for all the world like a burglary crime scene. Things were overturned, couch cushions were askew, pictures tilted on the walls, and more paper and plastic was scattered about than the floor of a stadium after the Super Bowl. It was an epic mess... and it was all done is less time than it took for us to say, "Uh... girls?"
They swam in the indoor pool, splashed around in the hot tub, got back into the pool, returned to the hot tub, went back to the pool, held a contest to see who could do the wackiest "dive" into the water, looked for lost earrings on the bottom of the pool, traded swim goggles, and did everything while still maintaining a sound level that bordered on the threshold of pain for the two weary adults in the pool room. God, did we crave alcohol... and I couldn't help but miss those wonderful earplugs my former employer passed out to dampen the noise of our machines in the factory. I had to step out of the room more than once just to open and close my mouth while rubbing my temples... It was like being in a closed hanger with a jet testing its afterburners.
We ordered delivery pizzas for the girls, which they proceeded to distribute to all corners of their room on various cardboard plates, along with half empty cans of soda and Capri Sun juice pouches. Empty water bottles were everywhere, as were plates of birthday cake and smeared icing. And everything in the room had little bits of plastic based confetti attached to its surface, including the kids themselves. Seriously, their room looked like the aftermath of a tornado.
Meanwhile, my wife and I tried to stay out of their hair by playing Scrabble on the table in our own room. Occasionally one of us would step through the connecting doors to remind the weasels on crack that other guests might not want to hear their screams and laughter. But mostly we just let them carry on, figuring resistance was futile anyway. At some point the girls wanted to know if they could play "Twister" in our room, since the floor of theirs was hopelessly cluttered with debris. The Twister game lasted about a minute, and then someone discovered that those rolls of paper streamers would make great wrappings for mummies! Next thing we know, kids are wrapping purple and pink streamer paper around one another from head to toe... which sounds fun, until you realize that kids whose legs are tightly bound can't keep from falling over... which is also interesting since their arms are likewise bound to their torsos with the same streamer paper. After the first girl hit the floor and knocked the wind out of her little self, we changed the rules and forbade ankle wrapping... Seemed like the prudent thing to do, safety wise. My theory has always been "If you're gonna be stupid, you gotta be tough" but then, these were other people's kids and an emergency room visit would probably have put a damper on things.
At about midnight we tried to get them to settle down for the night, and at some point an hour or two later it was finally quiet in their room. We got them up early the next morning so they could go down for the free buffet breakfast, which gave us a chance to clean up a little of the mess. Sarah managed to turn over her glass of juice at the table in the restaurant, and then turned over her cup of hot chocolate two minutes later. Helpful hotel attendants took care of that mess, and we couldn't stop apologizing.
After the little dears were picked up (and they really were good kids, don't get me wrong) we came back here and poured ourselves the first of many Bloody Marys. All three of us took naps during the afternoon... something that NEVER happens. Exhaustion was in charge, folks.
We've let The Princess know this won't be happening again anytime soon. She can have a normal-ass birthday party, but we won't be puttin' on the Ritz again in this lifetime.
I'm just now beginning to regain my hearing.