Slumber party


During those seven years spent growing up at 110 Flamingo Street, it’s true that I learned a bunch about life, people, and worldly things. Even so, fully understanding some concepts did escape my grasp. The idea of the slumber party was as baffling then as it is now.
Back on Flamingo Street, Dad used to say, “Don’t be afraid to try something new. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” Of course he was usually talking about some yucky food he wanted us to try, like broccoli or Brussels sprouts. That statement from our childhood would be tested in ways I’m sure Dad could never have imagine.

Not to be tagged as an “out of touch old guy” yet again, I’ve decided (at age 55) to heed Dad’s advice and try something new. Welcome to the very first slumber party at Grumpy Grandpa’s Daycare. Besides, what’s the worst that could happen?
To understand further how to host said slumber party, I turned to the one person I always rely on for sage advice; the one person who always has unwavering support for anything new I try. After explaining what I wanted to do, The Wife’s reaction wasn’t quite what I expected.

She smiled and said, “Let me get this straight. You’ve going to have a slumber party for our granddaughter who’s only 8 months old?”
I would’ve answered and said that her mom was having a slumber party for her older daughter and asked if we could watch Little One for the night. But before I could, The Wife kissed me then walked away. I wasn’t sure, but I think she was laughing.

She went to her office to work on her school stuff while I headed for the garage to work on my stuff. Trips to local stores were in order. After all, a lot of provisions had to be bought and things had to get done before we would be ready for our little houseguest arriving in just a few days.
First on my list: a trip to the giant hardware store with the orange roof for baby-safe cleaning supplies. The carpets in the house and the rubber flooring in her playroom had to be cleaned. Even got something to kill all those dust bunnies hibernating under the beds.

At 8 months, Little One is a lean, crawling, drooling machine. Soon, I’ll need to step up my cardio workouts just to keep up with her.

Second stop: the super baby bonanza store. For all you new Neanderthal granddads out there, if you really want to feel like a dinosaur, this is the place.
On a Saturday afternoon, I was the only guy in the huge store. Guess everyone else was watching football. But I didn’t care. On a mission, I pushed my carts through aisles and aisles of everything pink, everything lace, and everything cute for a little girls room. Yes, I said carts.

Third and final stop: back to the house and what is now designated as the Baby Bedroom (formerly known as the Man Cave).
I spent the rest of the afternoon replacing all the furniture. A changing table with soft, motion-sensor lighting was assembled and placed in the corner right under where the leather tool belt hangs. Of course, all the tools have been replaced with bottles, bibs, and a healthy supply of diapers, creams, and burp cloths.
After installing a new ceiling light with giant pink flower petals, a butterfly mobile, and then a full-size bed for yours truly, the only thing left to assemble was a crib.

Special note to all those new Neanderthal granddads out there outfitting a room in their house as a baby room: Read the instructions before attempting this task.
Because someone thought he knew what he was doing and threw the box away with the instructions he said he didn’t need to read, three days later the crib was finally assembled. Just in time to welcome Little One to her first slumber party at Grumpy Grandpa’s Daycare.

That was Tuesday morning. A few hours later snow started to fall. Little One’s first slumber party turned into her first snow day, snow night and extended well into a second day before the thaw allowed a pickup by Mom.

The Wife and I had so much fun watching Little One we’re making plans for another slumber party, minus all the snow and below-freezing temperatures, of course.
Just in case, this Saturday I’m off to the super baby bonanza store once more. They have little pink snow boots with matching jackets on sale.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, served as a firefighter for more than two decades and has been a weekly columnist since 2001. His email is His books are available at]