Let My Child Out of the House Overnight? Are you INSANE?

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My girl is five, and I can feel her desire for sleepovers brewing. And I admit it: I'm terrified. It's not that I don't trust other parents; I currently vet the parents of every one of my daughter's close friends, and most who would invite my child into their homes are trustworthy and competent souls. It's her I'm worried about. Oh, and me.

I'm worried she'll be scared, that she'll be there in the dark and the tears will start flowing down her perfect cheeks the way they do when she gets her bangs cut. She doesn't say anything during those moments when feeling threatened by strangers, she just reaches out from under the enormous black robe for my hand.  And I am always there to offer it. Or the way she suddenly burst into tears in the middle of ballet class for no apparent reason, telling the teacher she really wanted her mommy. And I was there.

I'm not sure I'm ready for her to cry for me and for me not to be there.  

It's different than my anxiety about school, which is under control. She's been in daycare her entire life, and she's made peace with daytime separations. Night, though ... nights are different. The only time we've been separated at night my mom has been there, a reliable stand-in and Grade A Comforter. I don't know if I'm ready to subject her to the separation or another parent friend to comforting her at 2 a.m. I'm also not sure I would really sleep knowing the phone call might come to drag myself out of bed and fetch my little girl home.

I also fear the morning after, as Chefdruck wrote about:

The outburst was monumental. There was foot stomping, shouting, crying, sobbing, doors slammed, and then silence. That's when I went up to put my exhausted little girl back together. She crawled onto my lap and cried softly for a while before telling me that she had missed us so much and that inflatable mattresses were terribly uncomfortable. Then she put her hand in mine and we walked downstairs to have a little lunch, both of us feeling better now that the storm was behind us.

But maybe I should encourage her to spend the night at her friends' houses, because the alternative is that they would come here, to my sanctuary, and drive me quickly and permanently insane. Like Christine at The Bean Blog:

After this weekend I’ve decided I’d rather rip off all my toenails while the dentist performs root canal without Novocain and somebody else pokes me in the eye with a rusty fork then have another sleepover at my house.

Looking deeper into the blogosphere, though, I was reminded that there are no cut-and-dry rules about spending the night at a friend's house. Maybe we'll dip a toe with a half-sleepover, involving laughter, pajamas, eating too much sugar, and then ... coming home, like Hillary's daughter, Strat, from Five Winds Family

It makes me really happy when our kids check out their options. They haven't bought into the idea that the whole world is made up of rules that need to be followed "or else". They don't cringe at making themselves an exception to how things are usually done ... not unless it would really interfere with someone else. And it makes me happy when they do consider that, too, in a realistic way, instead of thinking that any departure from the norm is going to hurt something. I hope that isn't something they grow out of.

When did your kids have their first sleepovers? What's your plan?


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