Friday, February 01, 2013

Daughter's sleepover sets bar at fanciful level

From today's Briefing:

Most days I’m not fancy enough for my daughter.

I don’t wear enough accessories or sequins. I don’t drape or hang enough stuff around the house. I don’t have enough sparkle.

When we’re at department stores, Katie gravitates toward ball gowns and rhinestone-studded heels. I gravitate toward simple separates and comfy flats.

Sometimes I compromise. On my 7-year-old’s advice, I might pile on bangle bracelets or add a scarf. During festive seasons, I might put out a few more Santas or pumpkins than I’d prefer. On everyday occasions, I might give in to some not-too-unreasonable demands.

Katie’s best friend recently spent the night. The day before Noe’s arrival, Katie bought a sleepover ideas book at the bookstore. (She wanted it so badly that she spent her own money.) In the next hours, she pored over the book, thinking about themes and activities for Noe’s extended playdate.

When I woke the next morning, Katie was hovering outside my bedroom door with a shopping list of sleepover supplies.

Based on her plans, the evening would include — but not be limited to — smoothies, cupcakes and a fashion show, plus crafting time that would result in hand-sewn fuzzy slippers, a handmade journal and a hand-built board game.

Her plans also included a winter wonderland inside our home. She wanted snowflakes hanging from ceilings in multiple rooms and passageways.

After a little coffee, I was able to start tackling the list and tempering Katie’s expectations.

We made snowflakes together. I folded varying sizes of white squares and handed them to Katie, who would expertly snip the seams and unfold the paper. I then hung the snowflakes from the curtain rod in the kitchen window — not exactly Katie’s grand vision but good enough.

Then we whittled the rest of the list — this wasn’t a weeklong engagement. Soon after Noe’s arrival, the girls used construction toys to build a veterinarian office for stuffed animals. We took our real-live dog for a walk to the park.

The girls donned pajamas. Because I wouldn’t buy red fabric to simulate a red carpet, Katie improvised and pulled out pages and pages of bright pink paper.

She laid them end-to-end in the hallway, and she and Noe put on a fashion show. (Noe won the award for best walk. Katie won the award for best dance.)

We ate pizza while watching The Parent Trap (circa 1998). I made smoothies using equal parts frozen vanilla yogurt and orange juice.

The girls opted to sleep in sleeping bags on the family room floor. Before I turned out the lights, they used tiny notepads and new ink pens to play a drawing guessing game that they invented sometime in first grade. They fell asleep surrounded by all those animals from the vet clinic.

Eight hours later, they were awake and ready for more.

They didn’t make slippers or decorate cupcakes, but the sleepover was fancy enough and fun enough for two sparkly 7-year-olds.

I can’t coast on that one success for too long, though. A week after Noe’s visit, Katie wrinkled her forehead, looked me in the eye and said, “I need to have a fun little party soon because I have some ideas.”

Tyra Damm is a Briefing columnist. Email her at tyradamm@

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