Two words: SLUMBER PARTY!
Got Savannah and Maddie in bed (for the third time) just before midnight. Promised I'd check back at 12:01. Lost track of time tiring Gracie so found the two Thomas girls snoozing at 12:12. GG was another story. We tried Milky (Pediasure - she drank/ate three today), dancing (to old 30's & 40's tunes like "There's Nobody Here But Us Chickens"), reading (five books - we all got one ((Savannah, Maddie, Grace, Me, and Uncle Kevin)) plus Grace snuck one on the side since she's a baby). We determined story order by drawing straws / smiley faced papers. Savannah cheated (as she does in all games) and swapped her sad face with G who'd gotten the bored face. Madisyn drew first place (the smiliest of faces) and carefully picked her book (it took her 10 minutes).
Maddie finally settled on Dora at the Beach. Savannah picked Miss Spider's Tea Party - a counting book that was hard to find even though I knew it was on the shelves. For Grace - Hop on Pop. Uncle Kevin - Go, Dog, Go. (Which Savannah ended up reading for us - smart girl.) For me - Skippyjon Jones - about a siamese cat who thinks he is a chihuahua Zorro and talks about things that end in "ito".
After storytime (aka "bedtime") we were only 15 minutes behind schedule. We wanted to be in bed at 9:30, attempting sleep at 10:30. Only then does Savannah tell me that 8:30 is their normal bedtime. Oh well. So Kevin and I leave them chatting while we enjoy a cocktail and a breath of the fresh, night air.
Next thing you know, Maddie reemerges with Savannah as her mouthpiece to announce that younger sis can't sleep cuz of a bum leg. We'd checked it earlier for scratches or contusions - it was the right leg at the time. Now she wasn't certain of the origin - right leg? left leg? knee? shin? But whatever it was, she couldn't sleep.
We applied kisses. (On G and Savannah, too. Grace's right cheek, Savannah's leg.) And then I found Grace's "Boo Boo Cream." Maddie was a true doubting Thomas. She quizzed me about the Boo Boo Cream as if it were Snake Oil. I showed her the label - clearly marked "Boo Boo Cream" with pictures of various species (fish, cat, dog?) being healed. Still, she scowled and doubted me.
So I lied. I insisted it was real. I swore to its efficacy and was insulted by her skepticism. Savannah, of course, being five and almost six, and being covered in an incredible array of glittery tattoos (one on each foot, each cheek, each boob, each butt cheek, one on her belly, her thigh, and her forehead, another on her future cleavage, on on her lower back, the "tramp stamp"), went along with it, whispering in my ear, "it isn't real, is it?" which I answered with the shake of my head.
So all was well. It was Bedtime 2.0. Then, suddenly, Maddie and I were all alone with our Boo Boo Cream. Savannah and Grace had slipped off, called away by the siren's song of Uncle Kevin's iPod full of old time tunes. As I campaigned the finer points of falling asleep first (best pillow, deepest sleep, choice bed position), Maddie asked one more time about the Boo Boo Cream. Since she had already professed to feeling its effects, I considered telling her the truth. Suddenly, I couldn't stop the words as they fell out of my mouth like so many poops in the potty.
"No," I said, "I was kidding."
She wailed, as she's apt to do, and swore she'd NEVER trust me again.
"You LIED. You LIED. My boo boos will NEVER feel better."
I tried to explain about placebos, how they're real, they work, and you can play them in Scrabble. My protests were drowned out by Maddie's despair.
This is when big sis and little G returned. Thick in her fit, Maddie announced to the returning Grace, "Guess what? The Boo Boo Cream's not real. Anti Jenni LIED."
I said, "What? Are you going to tell her about Santa, too?" which no one caught and I immediately regretted so I tried to distract her by asking her about her ear piercing.
The Boo Boo Cream by now was not at its designated spot by the toy toaster. It was lost under Dora or Nemo or whichever character was on the blanket of the girl who'd last used it. As Savannah looked for it, I suggested it had disappeared because Maddie stopped believing in it. When Savannah found it (under her butt, of course, where most things are when you are looking for them) she said, "Look, I believed and the Boo Boo Cream came back."
Immediately Maddie was converted. She began to sing high praises to the Boo Boo Cream and never let it leave her sight. She even brought it with her as we left to join the others in their late night dancing. It was obvious as we came down the hallway to find Savannah, Grace, and Kevin boogieing their hearts out, that bedtime number two was over.
The dance session finally ended with an apple juice break and some negotiation for which toy we could take to bed. Maddie got a doll and three dresses (four pieces), so Savannah tried for four people, a horse, and a carriage. She finally ended up with the horse, a person, and a smuggled in husky dog. I picked Tinkerbell and Fairy Minnie Mouse for Grace.
For bedtime number three I tried to settle the Thomas girls with the Sleepy Song. (A song Erik made up which works incredibly well on me. It involves much sighing and yawning and is sung very, very slowly, "Sleepy, sleepy, sleepy.... Oh, so sleepy... So tired... Eyelids... so... heavy... Sleepy, sleepy, sleepy...." It's so effective, he is forbidden to sing it while I drive.) Maddie mocked me, but I could tell it was working on Savannah. I let them have books too (but drew the line at the light up/singing Nemo book) and decided to put Grace down separately.
I left to find Grace and Uncle Kevin doctoring a stuffed Dalmation (G checking the pulse with the stethoscope) and we continued dancing. Ring Around the Rosey was a favorite. Then we started flipping Grace. First it was one on one, as she just climbed me. Then we did it tag team - each of us taking an arm and turning her by her feet.
After getting her hooked on flipping, we'd only do it to reward her demonstration of the sign language we'd been teaching her. Please, Thank You, I Love You, Dog, Cat, Fox, Owl - Bat, Bear, and Bunny got her a triple - Play, Apple, Candy, Juice, Horse, Donkey, No - she knew more but she soon tired. She went willingly off to bed where we found her cousins still sleeping.
We stole G's pillow out from under Savannah's head (I warned her not to use it) and bedtime number three was complete.
I wish that had been the end of the story. I was simply too tired to later report that Maddie had woken up crying a couple hours later. Apparently the Boo Boo Cream was powerless against growing pains. Had I known she was prone to them (and had I had any Children's Tylenol), I might have been able to help her out with something more than a placebo. Fortunately, snuggles seemed to do her some good and she was able to sleep in my arms on the couch. We only got about four good hours before the dogs started their morning routine (whining which becomes whistling which blossoms into impatient barking...) but everyone knows that the best slumber parties involve very little sleeping.