An unexpected bonus of what my children might consider "loneliness" (aka, a reduction in availability of, and/or the lack of ability to convince Mom to drive 30 miles to hang out with, outside friends every day) is what I call the sibling sleepover (not to be confused with the ever-sacred family sleepover).
The sibling sleepover comes in various forms. The other night we had a huge thunderstorm - the kind that rattles even new windows and blows over mobile homes. I tossed and turned all night, finally falling back to a fitful sleep. I awoke in the morning, fully expecting to see a tailgate party of sleeping bags formed at the foot of my bed, with frightened little (and some big) faces waiting for my comforting motherly glance.
It took a while, but after wandering the house, I finally found Annie-6 sleeping soundly on the floor next to Libby-10. And Ruthie-4 in Allie's-14 bed.
I'm used to Allie and Libby having sleepovers - they have shared a room practically since Libby was born, and it was a constant source of irritation at our old house. Can we never have a decent bedtime around here?
But now that they have their own rooms (and because it's summer and I'm not having to raise the dead for school every morning), I appreciate watching their choice to enjoy each other's company. Oh, and it also helps that their bedroom is on the complete opposite end of the house from mine now. Anyway, even if they've argued earlier in the day, they somehow forget all that, sometime past 11:00. It makes me happy, but ugh, that's just way too late for my tired bod.
But it's not just the big girls. Allie-14 and Ruthie-4 had a sleepover the other night. I walked in to tell them to be quiet (again), and there's Ruthie, sitting on the bed while Allie and Libby sat on the floor looking expectantly up at her. Ruthie was making striking motions with her hand. After a few moments of silence and multiple repetitions of the motion, she finally said, "I'm lighting a candle!!" exasperated, like, Don't you know anything? I'd walked in on their game of charades.
The big girls are initiating the little girls in the art of nail-painting ("Would you like cheetah dots or tiger stripes?"), hair straightening, occasional makeup, and, of course, self-portraiture.
The little girls keep it fun because they are in awe of the big girls' ability to handle hot and dangerous hair appliances, and because they laugh at everything.
Last night the big kids were wound up, and this time, Neal-13 was in on the action. The last time I checked on them, the girls were reading him portions of Shaunti Feldman's book, For Young Women Only. All day he'd been the annoying brother, but, well, it was past 11:00, and suddenly he became a guy friend who could attest to everything about the adolescent male written in the book.
We had a very big thunderstorm again last night. All three big kids slept soundly through it, and I doubt they had so much as a thought of loneliness, all piled on the floor in sleeping bags... in Allie's room.