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The sleepover

Living

Diary of a home bird
Ciara Galvin

“I’M not sure this was such a good idea.” Those were the words I uttered as I walked into the homestead recently and was met with three screaming girls. My nieces, full of joie de vivre, and jelly tots, met me at the door. “Nanny McPhee,” one screamed.
The week before, I’d had the brainwave of suggesting a sleep-over. Spirits were high, and I was off to the sunny climes of Croatia to relax. I figured I would return in a zen-like state to fulfill my auntie role with distinction and take three of my nieces for the night, aged between four, and five-and-three-quarters (those who know five year olds, know every month counts).
I thought it would be all movies, hair plaiting and popcorn eating. I was wrong. This was more of a UN diplomacy mission, with serious negotiation tactics required. Two mermaid sleeping bags and three girls was the first issue, then one Tinkerbell movie favoured by two. It was far from plain sailing. Their parents laughed at the beginning of the night, as panic crossed my face.
Instead of giving Calpol, I was thinking about taking some myself. Sure doesn’t it cure all known ailments? The first obstacle was sorting out sleeping arrangements. A blow-up bed needed to be, well, blown up. As we read the instructions I suggested to my brother that we use the hoover, and to make matters worse I suggested it a total of three times.
“Ciara, answer me this, what does a hoover do?”As I thought about it, I cringed. Yeah, probably not my finest Einstein moment.
Eventually, with a lot of foot pumping we had a bed. Next, it was pyjama time. I stupidly thought that the earlier you get kids ready for bed, the earlier they go to bed. Oh how wrong I was. After getting them dressed I slipped away to put on my own ensemble for the sleepover, my beloved onesie. Then on went the popcorn, as it was movie time.
Trying to get three people to decide on anything, never mind kids, is a disaster. Eventually I made the executive decision. Catching up on the previous week’s Mayo News while they watched my choice, I thought ‘Sure this is a breeze’. Of course, it didn’t last. Boredom set in, and soon it was pillow fights, The Floor is Lava and PJ Masks theme music.
My negotiation skills were soon thrown to one side, and I became a dictator. “No, you have all been given your designated sleeping areas and that’s that.”
Next was musical statues (Disney Spotify playlist to the rescue). I thought this would surely tire them out.
Like trying to clear a bar after hours, they were having none of it when I mentioned bed, ‘But we’re thirrrsty and huuungry’, came the cries. Crackers and milk and lights off. It was 10.30pm heaven’s sake.
The group then whittled down to two, one lost to the comfort of her mother’s bed.
At 11pm came the dreaded words no one wants to hear, ‘I think I want to go home’, followed quickly with ‘Me too’ by the second. I lay there, mind racing for a counter argument. Pancakes. When in doubt, suggest pancakes. I must pass that pearl of wisdom on to Theresa May. One mention of them missing the next morning’s treats and they turned over happily.
A 6.30am wakeup call informed me that all sleepover attendees were still alive. A win in my book.
Later that day my brother texted, “Ciara, I’ve a flat tyre, will you bring out the hoover?”
I’ll never live it down.

In her fortnightly Diary of a Home Bird column, Ciara Galvin reveals the trials and tribulations of a twenty-something year old still living with her parents.