Now here’s a word that sends shivers down a parent’s spine — sleepover.

As in, “Hey, Mom, I want a sleepover party this year!”

Cue the “Psycho” music.

Weeppp … weeeppp ... WEEPPP!

Yes, that was supposed to be “Psycho” music, in written form. And yes, not so ironically, that is also what parents do the day after their home is invaded by loud, rambunctious, non-blood-relative children who don’t actually sleep at the sleepover.

But, on the upside, it’s tons of fun (for the kids) for relatively cheap: the cost of a few pizzas, cake and a six-pack of Benadryl and, boom, you’re in the party biz. And no, the Benadryl isn't for drugging the kids, it's for us parents. So we can sleep. Finally.

I have to admit that kiddie birthdays really stress me out. Everything about them causes extreme anxiety. When do we schedule? (The technical difficulty is increased by the fact that each child was born near a holiday.) Where should we have it? Will everyone show up?

Childhood’s got such a short window, I can’t not do the birthday party. And we’ve pretty much had ’em all. For several years, the party in the park was the big thing. Amazingly, only once did a downpour force the fun and frivolity indoors. To our house. On about an hour’s notice. No, I still have not recovered.

Then there was the park party when the pizza delivery guy took such an amazingly long, circuitous route that it took more than two hours for the pies to arrive from less than a mile away. The kids call that one the Backwards Party because we ate the cake first. Side story: It was also the day after the kids’ dad had surgery to repair a torn Achilles tendon, so he was on crutches and painkillers. Luuuucky. That’s the way to experience a kid b-day party — completely numbed by medication.

We had a bowling party, a martial arts party, a few at indoor gyms, even a guerrilla party at a certain, kid-tacular pizza place in which we staked out tables early and brought our own cheapola giftbags and thus, didn’t have to pay $49.99 per head per kid for an officially sanctioned event.

So a sleepover party, actually, didn’t seem that bad.

Nine 9-year-old boys. For 20 hours. As the parents dropped off the party guests they all said, “You’re brave.”

Inside, I know they were saying “and stupid.”

We turned the playroom over to those rowdy boys and stepped back.

They screamed, they jumped on a mini trampoline so they could slam dunk on an indoor basketball hoop, they left upturned plastic cups everywhere, they burped, they laughed, someone periodically shrieked like a girl. I felt like I was glimpsing the future, of what they’d all grow up into — college party animals whose fraternity will be suspended one day.

But, the sweatiness, the stinkiness, the burpiness was all worth it because of one priceless quote uttered by one party guest to another who declined cake, saying he didn’t like it.

“What?!” one 9-year-old exclaimed. “You have good hair, you’re good at sports, you’re cute, you have long eyelashes, and you DON’T LIKE CAKE? You have everything, and you DON’T LIKE CAKE?”

Birthday boy’s teenage sister couldn’t text that quote fast enough to all her friends. Yup, that one for sure’ll go down in the annals of birthday history.

Contact Kristen Cook at or 573-4194. Cook’s youngest child was shocked — SHOCKED — to discover that his family actually paid for that newspaper that arrives every morning on the driveway. “Really?” he asked. “Why pay for town gossip?!”