We arrive just before 7 PM on Friday night. I open up the backseat car door and release the three girls that have been giggling, shouting, kicking my seat, and screaming from their respective booster seats and seatbelts. They spring forth out of the car, clamoring up the back deck steps. By the time I reach the door, you can feel the excitement surging off of their little bodies.
I open the door.
Squeals of delight as Z comes racing through, hugging each of them, commenting on their backpacks, shoes, outfits, they look like miniature teenage girls and in moments they are gone in a flash, behind a closed bedroom door, squeals of delight, giggles erupting from the crack underneath.
Not even ten minutes in and a very exasperated Hubs is followed by a perturbed looking Blade. "They are naked. All naked. I just don't understand." And it's true, the "menfolk" look as confused as they possibly could be. I shut the oven door and walk down the hall to the girl's room.
"We don't shut this door, right, Z?" I say as I swing open the door. The girls all scream as the door opens and then they collapse in a pile of laughter. All naked, save for their panties, they are pulling down every dress-up dress and dressy dress and tutu that they can find. "Oh, my princesses!" I declare, "Let me help you to put on your gowns." I line each one up and dress them in the frilly things of little girls 6 and under.
Two of them share the same name and I have given them all the option of changing their names for the evening.
"Cinderella" is up first to have her shimmery pink frock zipped and tied about her. The youngest of the 4, she will be 4 in a few short weeks. Her recent adventure to the barber has already given me a warning about the use of scissors in tonight's festivities and I take note of it one last time as I place the silver crown upon her head.
"Rosetta" is next and has declared herself bath-free for this weekend excursion. The older sister of Cinderella, she is also the oldest of the group. She has a homework assignment of writing out Valentines this evening that we will be working on soon. I note the growing mat of tangled hair that she is sporting in the back of her head and make a small prayer for her mother. I have been there.
"Lightning McQueen" is next in her pink and white flowered gown. I let her know how lovely her choice is and make suggestions on her crown and scepter. Lightning has already voiced her uncertainty about staying the night and I wonder if she will last for the entire sleepover (she does!).
The last that I dress is "SuperGirl", my girl. SuperGirl is hopping with excitement having played a huge part in the planning of the night's activities. I dress her in her sparkly "gown" and she sprints to catch up with her crew that are now having a fashion show through the living room.
I make the formal introductions to the waiting "men" as they roll eyes and shake their heads. One of them is 32 and doesn't understand women, the other is 7 and is beginning to understand that we girls are strange and curious creatures indeed.
We make Valentines, we bake homemade thin mints, we dance, and we yell. We fight over toys and beg to watch movies that we barely pay attention to. The "men", they are there, but they are merely background to the tapestry of memories that we are making.
At the end of the night, after I have corralled the beauties, washed their faces of makeup and chocolate, stripped them of their gowns and crowns, and dressed them in their pajamas, they lay down onto the makeshift campsite of pillows and blankets and comforters. I press play on the kid movie of the night and just before it starts Supergirl sits up - "I love you, Momma, you are the best mommy in the whole wide world."
The other girls look up at me, considering this statement and one by one I hear them say, "I love you, Miss Heather." I smile, dropping my crochet hook for just a second and whisper into the dark and now quiet room, "And I love you all too."