Mitzi is having her first sleepover tonight. Until now, it’s been the occasional night with her cousin either with us at Muggy’s house, or with cousin Anna at Anna’s house. Very safe, very predictable. Tonight, though, Mitzi is at our neighbor’s house, with our neighbor’s daughter. Many weeks of anticipation have built up to this activity — Mitzi has had a bag packed and at the ready since the idea was first floated in December. So off she went this afternoon — finally! — for a chilly swim in the pool, and to have dinner and girly fun with Sofia and her mom. Off we went, to Cooper’s last baseball game of the season, followed by dinner at Salsa’s, the restaurant who sponsored Coop’s team.
I was at ease. I expected no trouble.
Alas. Mitzi called once, during the game, to say hi, and to ask for her sleeping bag. After we got home, I walked over with the sleeping bag and some wine for the moms. Daniela and I chatted while the girls watched The Wizard of Oz, dressed up, bickered, made up, and asked for nineteen different things.
It’s funny. Mitzi kept wanting to walk home — to kiss Daddy, to kiss the little girls, to have a story with Cooper. I had assumed my outgoing firstborn would be in her milieu at a big-kid sleepover, but in the end she was no different than anyone other child. She kissed me 37 times and jumped into my arms every time (this is a kid who is nearing my height, ouch). She was a little nervous about staying alone in a new place, no matter how many times she’d been over to play.
We kissed goodnight a last time and I walked home. She waved me into the darkness, with shouting promises of an early-morning reunion. I’ve left the back yard light on, just in case.
I shouldn’t be surprised. She’s just a kid. Being away is hard. Remember your first night at college? This first sleepover was a little like that, for this gregarious seven-year-old. Things were different, and she needed reassurance. The view was altered and she needed grounding. The environment was not hers and she needed a compass.
No matter where you go, you always need your Mom. I still talk to my mom once a day. Less than that, I get a little antsy.
I get it.
So tonight I will sleep fitfully, with the light on and a phone held loosely in my hand, should my child, my baby, sleeping just a few hundred feet away, need me.
I am prepared. But I wonder: Is it for her, or for me?