My son was 7 when his best friend Ollie invited him for a birthday party sleepover. My kid had been talking about it for weeks, eagerly awaiting the sleepover as if were Christmas morning. I didn’t tell my son that I was dreading his first sleepover. Though he was certainly old enough and totally excited, I knew there would be tears when I dropped him off and midnight phone calls that would keep me up all night.
There were tears at drop-off — mine. “Bye, kiddo!” I said as I headed toward the door, fully expecting my kid to run after me and ask me to stay just a little bit longer. But he didn’t beg me to stay, nor did he even notice I was leaving. The boys were in heaven watching Star Wars together on the couch and eating ice cream. In fact, I had to go over to him and interrupt the movie so I could give him a hug and a kiss. In response, he smiled at me and said, “Move Mum, I can’t see the movie.”
My husband was out of town the night of the sleepover, so I took my younger daughter home to put her to bed. Since becoming a mum, I’d dreamed of a quiet house without the chaos of managing two kids. But once I had it, I didn’t know what to do with myself. I spent the next few hours staring at my phone, sure I’d get a text from Ollie’s mum. Sure enough a text finally did come through. I mentally prepared myself to read it, knowing it was probably a request from Ollie’s mum on behalf of my kid who missed me and wanted to come home. Instead, the text was a photo of the four boys at the sleepover, in sleeping bags on the floor, giggling and ready for bed.
I left my phone fully charged with the ringer turned up right next to my bed. I was sure that I’d get that midnight phone call I’d dreaded, with the news that my kid was embarrassed he’d wet the bed or that he desperately missed home, and could I come pick him up? I tossed and turned all night, exhausted from trying to sleep, anxious from checking my phone all night. I finally did fall asleep at 3 am when it was clear that my phone wasn’t going to ring. Apparently my kid was just fine, or at least Ollie’s mum was dealing with the chaos.
By the scheduled 9 am pick up time the following day, I had dark circles under my eyes and I’d been grinding my teeth all night long. I’d refreshed my phone 420 times, sure it wasn’t working or that I’d missed some important info on my kid. And I’d arrived at Ollie’s house 30 minutes early, hiding in my car around the corner too embarrassed to admit I was there to pick my kid up early.
When I finally walked in to Ollie’s house I did find my son in tears. But he wasn’t crying because he had a bad time, he was devastated he had to leave. He’d had the time of his life and wanted to know when he could sleep at a friend’s house again. I told him I’d have to think about it. Truth be told, in that moment, I wasn’t not sure I could handle another sleepover. My kid may have slept like a baby, but I was up all night.
But, of course I’ll let him go to another sleepover. He had a great time. I’ll still worry about him all night, but he’ll be just fine. Even though I worried all night, it was really nice to have a quiet house to myself. Next time I’ll try to enjoy it!
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