I don't care if it's a tooth, a word or a step. There's simply nothing like a "first" milestone to force the reality that your once tiny baby is a full on kid.
For me, the 5-year-old's first sleepover was just that. I thought I had more time before she requested to spend a night away from home, other than with relatives. I'm pretty sure I was at least six years old before Sara, a blonde girl in my first grade class, asked if I wanted to have a slumber party at her house. I'm sure I had fun, but the only thing I remember is not being able to fall asleep because I missed my mom so badly. I distinctly recall lying there in my sleeping bag in Sara's living room, the hall light on so it wasn't pitch dark, and the unmistakeable ache to go home to my mom. Now I may have been a mommy's girl, but I did have a little pride. I kept my mouth shut and eventually fell asleep. The next morning I woke up and realized it wasn't so bad after all. Sleepover success.
So when Faith and her friend Brynn, who lives just down the street from us, cooked up a plan to have a sleepover at her house, I made sure to tell Faith it was OK to miss me and that if she wanted to come home in the middle of the night that would be just fine. I envisioned the call and me showing up .2 seconds later like Batman on the doorstep.
Now you might think this was planting a seed of doubt in her mind. I worried that too, until she looked me in the eye and gave me the 5-year-old equivalent of "there there." She may have patted my head as well.
But talking a big sleepover game and walking one are two different things. I wondered if I might still be receiving a batphone call in the wee hours of the morning. Until I started receiving texts from Brynn's mom, Carrie. First, this picture:
Now does that look like the face of a girl who is distraught from missing her mom? No, no it does not. Which made me happy. And a little sad. Faith is now identifying with her peers more and more. It was bound to happen and I'm glad it has, but sometimes there's no reasoning with a mom heart. Just as I was thinking it was nice not to have to listen to the other end of the karaoke machine, I got another text.
And in case you thought I was the only one "dealing" with my daughter's first sleepover, Mr. Overprotective chimed in.
She had her friend's mom check her breath for freshness! Dear lord! We started doing this at home because we felt she might be half assing her toothbrushing when we weren't looking. It was not something I expected her to ask of a non family member at a sleepover. But the more I thought about it, it makes complete sense, as does her request to read books at 7:45 and go to bed. We expose our children to routines and rituals at home and then send them out into the world where all they have is what they know from experience. As parents, we give them the base and they take it and apply it (sometimes a little too perfectly) to life as they go. I find myself learning to trust her and the parenting job we've done (and are doing) more and more as I have less and less control over her interactions every day. It's not easy, but it's times like this when I realize she is listening, she is getting it and she does understand that fresh breath is important. But we must talk about who is on the list for the checks. Thanks for taking one for the Lindquist team, Carrie! I suppose it's my turn next.