This past week, Ali had to be out of town on business, and I had the pleasure of the girls’ company for a night. Story was excited to have a sleepover, and I made plans to have a little slumber party in the living room. While I always want the girls to have fun when they’re all together, I made a crucial mistake in my planning. I viewed Riley and Maddie as guests.
The girls watched TV as I made dinner. I turned on a show I figured they would all like. They overruled me, and each wanted to watch something different. They took turns choosing, and while one girl’s show was on, the other two did something else, not necessarily together.
I made tacos; always a kid favorite, right? Maddie didn’t want hers. So I gave her Cheerios instead. I gave them all milk to drink with dinner. Riley and Maddie wanted juice.
We went outside to play. I suggested we all take turns being the dragon slayer, but the three girls flat out refused; they wanted to be the dragons and ran around doing their own thing, occasionally getting into an argument about the type of dragon they were. I tried to take a selfie of our dragon faces, and, well, you can see how that turned out.
I made a pallet on the floor for Riley and Maddie to sleep on. (Story has to sleep sitting up, so I was going to put her in the recliner.) The girls didn’t like those arrangements, so I set them all up on the couch. I didn’t anticipate Maddie wanting to sleep next to me in the recliner. I didn’t anticipate her falling off the recliner.
But I should have. I’m not saying that the sleepover was a disaster. Far from it. The girls had a good time and so did I — just as we always do when we’re together. My heart melted when I tried to slip from the recliner to sleep elsewhere and Maddie put her hand on me and said sleepily, “Leddy.” I got a surge of joy when Riley made herself my pet dragon and hugged me with dragon’s strength. I recognized Story’s truth and love when she referred to the girls as her step-sisters.
These girls aren’t guests. They are my family.