I knew this time would come. Another small stepping stone in Big K's life. He received his first invitation to a SLEEPOVER! I looked at the invite penciled in shaky grade-school letters and felt a mixture of feelings; A little sad, because it meant that Kaiden was close to entering the time in his life where he would want to be with his friends more than his family. I felt a bit nervous because I had never met this boy's parents and really had no idea what type of people they were. But I also felt a bit of excitement, just because it was so incredibly obvious that Kaiden was excited about going. I think it was in the way he thew his coat on the floor, tore his backpack open, and waved the envelope in the air before he shredded it to get the invite out. Just guessin'.
The invite said, "Kaiden, you got invited to a sleepover." Kind of like he had won a prize or something. Well maybe he did by the way he was acting. The invitation did not contain an address, so I looked up the boy's name on the "friendship" list from school and called his mother. She spoke with an accent, but I couldn't place the nationality...I was thinking maybe from India? Or a middle eastern country? (Geography is not my strong point). The friendship list doesn't contain last names, so I couldn't try to pin it down, not that it mattered. It sounded like it would be 4 boys and it was the child's 7th birthday.
You have to know this about Big K before I continue, he's pretty shy, and lacks self-confidence. He's the kid who hangs back in a crowd, and lets people run over him. He gets embarrassed easily and can be incredibly over-sensitive. He's absolutely a sweet kid, well-mannered, but just doesn't speak up or ask for help. He also still has"Blankie." This could be an issue. He doesn't carry it everywhere, but if he has it in the car on the way to the bus stop, it will come flying over my shoulder about a block from the stop, with him yelling, "Hide it! Hide it!"
We had tried this sleeping over thing before with his Uncle (Shawn's brother), but we got the call at about 1 in the morning, that Kaiden wanted to come home. It wasn't a planned sleep over, Kaiden was just having fun and his Uncle loves being with him, so asked him to stay. Kaiden's excuse that time was because the only pajamas his Uncle had for him was an over-sized white T-shirt and he wasn't comfortable. That was over a year ago.
Anyway, I sent Shawn to buy the gift (the man has an uncanny knack for picking the perfect present), I wrapped it (HA! I don't wrap, I put it in a bag and throw tissue paper over it), and pack his bag the night before. I let Big K pick out his PJ's and the clothes for the following day, thinking any nervousness he had would be lessened if I let him participate in the packing and let him choose what he would be most comfortable in.
I have to tell you what was going on in my head. The thing that worried me the most was the bathroom situation. I know, weird, right? But I kept thinking, what if he has to go in the middle of the night, and he isn't able to find his way? (We keep a light on so the kids can find their way in the dark). Would he wake someone up? What if he didn't, and peed his pants? Do kids that age make fun of other kids for that? What if it wasn't the middle of the night and he had to go #2? There have been many days where after 15 minutes I'll knock on our bathroom door, "Everything okay in there?" He'll sit so long, he has a red ring on the back of his thighs and buttocks from sitting on the toilet. This may not be common in other families and may cause unnecessary worry.
Okay, enough already! It was time to back off and give the kid a chance. So I straightened my shoulders, grabbed the gift bag, overnight bag (sans blankie, he insisted), and pillow. I marched up to the door and turned around to see Kaiden still 3 ft behind me. "Come on," I encouraged, "It's going to be fun." He smiled and rang the bell.
Even after meeting the mom, I still couldn't tell you where she was from. But she was incredibly nice. So I gave Kaiden a quick hug (I didn't want him to feel any worry-vibes coming from me), and told him I'd see him tomorrow.
Little Man had fallen asleep very early. Which meant one thing, I had time to be alone with my husband! I got home and said, "Well, hon, you ready?" And he replied, "It's about time." And we...(boom chick-a bow bow) pulled out his business receipts and proceeded to get things ready for the tax people. (Yeah, I know what you all are thinking. In a perfect world. But no, Friday night and I'm going through tax stuff?! I live an exciting and dangerous life. Insert sarcasm here.)
I was still looking for anything tax related in all the slips of paper we accumulate, when the phone rang. I looked at the clock...10:30. Uh-oh.
So I found my way back to the boy's house. Kaiden was waiting at the door. The lady tried to offer every explanation about why he may have wanted to come home. I felt bad for her, because it wasn't like she had done anything wrong. So I thanked her, and suggested that maybe birthday boy could come visit us sometime? I strapped K into the car seat and then situated myself in the front seat.
"Everything go okay?"
"The party was a wreck, mom."
"Oh? What happened?"
He proceeded to tell me that he was the only one who showed up. That the gift dad bought was way too good because once the boy opened it, he stopped playing with Kaiden.
"And she didn't speak English, mom. She tried really hard, but she just wasn't good at it." (Please understand that this is North Dakota, and there isn't a whole lot of exposure to cultural diversity up here. Blond hair, blue eyes, and pale skin make up about 80% of the population.)
"...and...and I missed my family."
Mental sigh of relief. Maybe we're not quite to that stepping stone yet. Maybe he can be my sweet little boy for just awhile longer.
"Aww honey. That's sweet. I really didn't like sleep overs until I was about 8 or so, and when you have a lot more people there, it's a lot more fun. You play games, and if someone doesn't want to play, you can always play with someone else there. We missed you too, but I'm sure in a couple of years, you'll really want to go and you'll have a good time..." I glanced in the rear view mirror.
He was fast asleep.