The small crowd is breaking up, gathering serving dishes and leftovers to go, hugging good-bye, saying "Thanks so much" and "See you soon!" We wave cheerfully, collect the sticky cans and plates with pizza crusts and soggy chips, rinse glasses, and chat with a straggler mom who's come to take the last two boys. My husband settles down on the couch with the paper, and I stack the last items in the dishwasher and squeeze the soap in with a satisfying "splorp."
My daughter and a friend walk in a few minutes later, breathless and smiling from playing outside in the dark.
Visiting child: Hey,where are my parents?
I make the call.
Missing mom: So, what'd we forget?
Me: Your daughter.
Missing mom: No, seriously.
Me: Seriously. She's right here.
Missing mom: (clearly yelling to husband elsewhere in their house) Honey!
Me: We'll be happy to keep her, honestly. She's practically one of the family anyway.
[Muffled frantic conversation in background for several minutes. On our end, we are stifling a mass fit of the giggles]
Missing mom: I'll be right there.
I turn to the visiting child.
Me: You do understand what you've got here, right?
Visiting child: (grinning from ear to ear). Yep!
Me: OK, good.
The dishwasher hums as we turn on Sponge Bob, sit back and wait.