pink, far right

pink, far right

O

ur rule of thumb has been no sleepovers until after second grade.

I can’t remember how we arrived at this as parents. In all likelihood, I made it up to get out of an unwanted invitation when one of the boys was small. Over time though, this general guideline has become law, hissed between The Three when one of them was offered an opportunity previously denied to another.

“No sleepovers ‘til after second grade!” Roy was quick to loudly remind Peaches whenever an invitation came her way.

Peaches is in second grade now, though, and two weeks ago I sent her off on her first-ever sleepover. Her closest friend’s birthday had been planned as a party for three, including the guest of honor. There would be a trip to the Shrine Circus, waffles and a sleepover in-between. Last year, for this same friend’s birthday, we’d sent her along for the fun and splashy water park part only to drag her out, weeping and furious, before the slumber party portion began.

“Do you want to sleep over?” I asked her this time.

“I want to try,” she said.

There was some discussion about which of her stuffed animals she would take on her overnight. In the end, she decided on a small cat made entirely of upcycled sweaters instead of her cherished tiny teddy bear, Pink; the loss of the former could be weathered more easily than that of the latter.

When she was gone, I went to her room to strip her bed and wash the sheets. I did not consider the possibility too closely that, were she not to make it through the night at her friend’s house, she would be driven back home at 3 in the morning to a bed without sheets. I was hopeful for her. Also, it was good for me to stay busy.

But in her room, what I found was this: her animals, tucked into bed, sleeping in her spot until she returned.

And she did, too—but not until 10 o’clock the next morning.