That moment when you say "yes." When you tell your son he can invite four friends. And then you worry that someone will feel left out, and think, "What's a few more?"
You know full well that taking three boys anywhere can be exhausting, but somehow taking 11 boys to laser tag, pizza and then back to your house for a sleepover seems reasonable.
Within minutes of hosting eight extra boys in your home, you hear yourself yelling, "The roof is off-limits, guys!! NO ONE is allowed on the roof!" You tell the boys to put on their shoes, and one boy comes out wearing his swimsuit. But the noise in the house is so deafening, you understand how he got confused. The boys argue about who gets to sit next to whom, and who gets to ride in which car. You realize you are in WAY over your head. And there is NO TURNING BACK.
After a 30-minute-car ride of listening to poop and butt jokes, you arrive at the laser tag arena. Dread begins to fill your heart as you squeeze your way through the lobby crowded with male twenty-somethings. A flexible, non-planning "P" on the Myers-Briggs, you hadn't even considered the need to make a reservation. And the attendant has just informed you that there is NO ROOM for your party of 13. Your palms begin to sweat. Horror begins to settle in your stomach as two-carloads of restless 8-year-olds are pushing buttons on the nearby machines and asking, over and over again, "When are we going to play laser tag, Mrs. Taylor? WHEN are we going to play?" Your husband looks at you in disbelief and suggests that your planning skills could REALLY use improvement.
Thankfully, they have available reservations two hours later. You decide to go to the pizza place first, and then come back.
At this point, your husband is angry at you for "Inviting ALL OF THESE KIDS and NOT MAKING A RESERVATION." You are angry at yourself for the same reasons. Both of you are trying not to take your anger out on the kids, who are running around in circles, pushing buttons, disappearing to the bathroom without asking and running up and down the stairs of the two-story pizza place. Finally, the pizza comes, the drinks come, and the pipe organist begins to play. You and your husband sit back on backless benches, listen to a Star Wars medley, and try to relax with a glass of diluted Sprite. However, calm breathing is short-lived because the boys begin to get up and down, filling out song requests for the organist and asking to use the bathroom.
Bargaining begins when the pizza and drinks are gone, the pipe-organist is taking a break, and the kids run for the hills (the arcade). "Please Mrs. Taylor, can we have some quarters?" You explain that you have already spent A LOT of money on the laser tag and food, and that you will not be handing out quarters. You decide that you don't care if they are crawling around on the dirty carpet looking under arcade games and inside the coin returns for money. Your unspoken rule becomes, "As long as you guys stay in this room, I don't care what you do."
However, looking down at your phone, you come to the unfortunate conclusion that you still have an hour and thirty minutes until laser tag. ICE CREAM seems like a good solution. The organist begins to play; ice cream is being eaten; and the boys are sitting down. Hooray! Once again, your unspoken plea is, "PLEASE BOYS. YOU CAN DO WHAT YOU WANT! JUST DON'T MAKE US CHASE YOU DOWN." So they begin to write "poop" and "butt" on the song request papers, make them into paper airplanes, and place them in the jar that says, "Please do not fold requests."
The pizza is gone. The ice cream is gone. You have finally accepted that the boys do not like organ music. They are tired of making butt-related song requests. They don't have any quarters. They are climbing on the arcade games. You still have an hour until laser tag.
You find a park on Google maps and drive there. As you pull into a parking spot, you sigh with relief when you see a huge, grassy field and your husband carrying a bag of six footballs from the back of his car. Salvation! You think. But, alas. Five boys sprint off to climb a huge monument of jagged rocks; three boys try to climb a tree whose branches are too small for climbing; and the three oldest boys throw a football with your husband. "Don't do this! Don't do that!' You have become the meanest mom on the planet. You just want to go home. You sit down in a pile of rocks, wonder how it has come to this, and continue to shout out warnings of death and dismemberment.
7. Acceptance and Hope
Things start to look up. Laser tag finally begins. The boys are excited and contained! They shoot you with lasers and you smile. The boys are happy. You are happy. Hooray!
While running around in the dark, you realize you need a plan for the rest of the evening. You decide there will be present-opening. People will sing "Happy Birthday." There will be a movie; one that is interesting, but relaxing at the same time. And then, BED! Boys will be separated into different rooms. Silence and sleep WILL be achieved.
The plan works. The boys are asleep by 11:30. The house is quiet. You fall asleep. The next morning you have more energy, and the boys find an outdoor game to entertain themselves. The parents arrive and you smile pleasantly.
You HOPE that you will never fall under the spell of denial ever again.