July 17, 2016
I’ve lost track how many +ones we have entertained through the years. From the little neighborhood girls in Seattle at Grace’s 3rd birthday party at the hell known as Chuck E Cheese when Grace was too little to really know what a friend really is, to Lauren and her menagerie of silly-pusses and teammates, to Oh Emily and her hair-triplet friends, and the kindergarten and beyond sleepovers and countless play dates and bring-a-friend-here-and-there outings. For the most part, we’ve treated them all the same as we would our own girls. No special treatment; we’re glad you’re here and we’re planning on you coming back and our door is always open. We joke and tease with them and they know they can give it right back to us in kind. Paul has been known to show off his Michael Jackson kick at a slumber party just to watch the girls laugh at him, and he has feigned defeat when a gaggle of girls pounce on him in flying whomps. And forget about the chocolate chip pancakes and waffles in the morning! He’s kind of famous for them. In fact, I know a red-headed softballer who’s trying to finagle another invitation just for the pancakes.
We’ve had girls need to go home in the middle of the night because they just needed to see their parents, and that’s ok. I’ve stayed awake keeping some girls company at 2:00 AM because they aren’t sure if they want to go home or not. We’ve had 2 girls leave before bed because they were throwing up (not good for a birthday party). And we had one girl sneak out while everybody else was sleeping and walk herself home across the street.
I’m always amazed by all the stuff that travels with the +one. Sleeping bags and pillows and stuffed animals and hair accessories, mermaid outfits and Disney gear, electronics, lip stick and flowery sprays, swim suits, hairbrushes but rarely a toothbrush, fancy shoes and definitely creek boots, book bags, tiaras, necklaces, clip on earrings, softball cleats, bikes and scooters, glitter, frogs and lady bugs. And then there are the food preferences, boys’ phone numbers, family drama, secrets, attitudes, privileges and expectations.
We’ve had the alphabet soup from Ava to Zoey. A few random boys have wandered through to see what critters had been captured lately, for dinner and water balloons or creek-walking, hide and seek, a ride to school, help with homework, and I suspect, because they like the girls.
Jayden is Lauren’s +one this week at the beach. We were planning on Grace bringing a friend but that fell apart at the last minute. Next year, Oh Emily will get to invite a friend, so Paul and I will be sorely outnumbered. But Jayden, like so many other +ones, has just slid into the family as though she has always been here. Jayden is one of seven kids, with number 8 on the way, so the crowd and activity of our family trip doesn’t faze her at all. She’s been Lauren’s friend for years. She’s that friend who mixes well with everyone, even if she doesn’t know anyone else. She makes people feel comfortable with her easy, relaxed style. And when she gets together with Lauren, it’s like they are instant twins. Literally. Matching shirts. Blue jean shorts. Aviator sunglasses. Flip flops. And they both ordered shrimp for dinner. They are doing their happy dance because their homemade brownies just came out of the oven delicious and warm, like their friendship.
Having Jayden here with us makes Lauren so happy. We are living with amped-up Lauren at a heightened level of silly. Together they are bouncing off the walls. Singing and dancing. Fixing their hair. Picking out clothes. Jumping waves. Swimming in the pool. Then the other pool. Then the hot tub. Then the lazy river. Then the pool again. I’m not sure Paul is going to come out of this week the same man he was at the beginning.
The +one. Best thing since sliced bread. I know that not every family does the sleepovers and extended play date thing. I get that and I respect that. But for our family, the +one has blessed us beyond measure.