I didn't sleep much last Friday night. I tossed and turned. I couldn't get comfortable. My mind kept spinning.
I was worried.
The Girl had been invited to her first slumber party. A High School Musical 2 party with pizza and swimming. A celebration with lots and lots of candy.
I have held off on the spending of nights at the homes of kids from school because in this day and age I want a background check and something priceless as a hold deposit.
The Mister and I felt comfortable with this family. We decided that if The Girl wanted to go it would be OK.
Still, I didn't sleep.
The truth is that I had a horrible sleep-over experience as a tender 7 or 8 year old and I remember it so vividly it might as well've happened yesterday. I hadn't realized how that one evening had caused such anxiety for me until I lay in bed thinking about it all night.
My friend, K.C., lived with her grandparents on the weekends. They lived down the street. Looking back with my adult eyes it was probably a very sad situation for this little girl. The grandparents loved her, but they were older. K.C.'s mom, recently divorced, found a newfound love of partying. Every weekend she would drop K.C. at her grandparents and then disappear for the weekend, not seeing her until school was over on Monday afternoon. I spent a lot of time playing with KC over at her "weekend home".
Eventually, I was invited to spend a Saturday night, with the intention of going to church with them on Sunday Morning.
The Grandmother, wanting two clean girls for church, made us a take a bath. Which was fine. But then she wanted KC to wash her hair. When KC refused to wash her hair there was much screaming and craziness. There was a tense moment that involved a large plastic Goody hair brush; tan with brown markings to make it look like it was wood, used in a volatile moment as a paddle. There were shouts of "I hate you!"from KC, and more whacks with the brush. It was scary, to say the least.
I tried to tough it out, but in the end I had to go home late that night. To safety, to comfort, to my own warm bed.
It was years before I would spend the night at a friends house. My mom allowed me to blame it on her. My excuse for not spending the night became "My Mom won't let me." Instead, when invited to slumber parties she would come get me around 10pm. I would go to sleep at home.
It wasn't until 7th grade that I ever tried to sleep over at a friends house again. Even then only at TB's house. Those were the days! Watching Dirty Dancing on video (she had a VCR!) and eating frozen Schwan's hamburgers. Ahh! Memories...but i digress.
I hadn't realized what an impact the experience at KC's house had made. It's funny that I am writing about it today, August 21st, because for some reason I always think of KC on this day. Of all the things I remember about her it's this sleep-over moment, and the fact that today is her birthday, exactly one month from mine.
Unknowingly, this event had brought me to the conclusion (as a parent) that we would not allow the kids to spend the night at a friends house until they were 10. The Boy is almost there, so I was contemplating moving the age up a bit! I had made up this random age all based on my insecurities.
All last week The Girl was so excited about the party. When I dropped her off on Friday evening I had to make her kiss and hug me good-bye, more for my sake than hers. She was excited, not at all worried. Of course not! She doesn't have the baggage.
I laid in bed Friday night just praying that she was OK, that she was asleep. There was a brief bout of thunder, and I was sick with worry that she would be afraid, when I realized that she isn't the one who had an intense fear of thunder as a child. Yup, you've got it. Again, that was me.
I love this stage in life. I love hearing The Girl listening to her music CD's. Really loud. I love talking with The Boy and listening to all he is doing at school. I love this age where they are becoming independent. But what I hate about this stage is that everyday so much more is out of my control.
I want to protect them from hard things in life, but if I try to protect in all circumstances based on my insecurities (baggage), then they are going to miss some really great things that are the fun parts of being a kid.
I'm still going to be choosy about where they will spend the night, but this weekend was an opportunity to see areas where I parent out of fear; how I make choices based on my own baggage. That isn't a fun place to be, for the kids or for myself.
The Girl had a blast! She stayed up 'til past midnight and ate lots of candy. She felt horrible Saturday afternoon and I congratulated her on her first case of "Sleep-Over Sickness". Do you remember that feeling? When you feel slightly nauseous from lack of sleep and the all night junk food fest?
I hope that KC is somewhere out there safe and happy, perhaps with kids of her own that she can love on, and that her own baggage has not colored her way of life in dark shades that make it hard to see. If your out there, KC, very happiest of birthdays to you...
Do not be afraid or terrified because of them,
for the Lord your God goes with you;
He will never leave you."