Do you remember the first time you had a sleep-over? Along with that first loose tooth, this is one great big rite of passage.
Lately I find myself spending more time listening to the ever-present Eugene rain, Soundscapes and relaxation music. If I look at social media I get fixated on mindless, fun stuff or very inspirational real life stories and musings.
Except for the littles, not much makes sense to me right now. I kind of feel like that scene in the movie "2012" where the North and South Poles switch places. Maybe I am sort of like the Woody Harrelson character, sure those secret ships will take us up and away.
Now a fan of therapy dogs Max and companion Ruby, Esther the Wonder Pig, cat videos, although I am allergic to cats. A lot of wonder and wonderful, kind-hearted people in this world. That's what I'm focusing on.
Lesson one: Children make everything worthwhile.
Still innocent awhile longer, we watch and feel the world through their eyes, ears and souls. Take time to savor the moment. Make it our intention, first and foremost. Prioritize and balance. Let our senses be filled with what our kiddos feel, hear, touch and taste, the newness of it, like that newborn giraffe on wobbly legs.
Lesson two: We had a big 'first' this weekend.
Morgan is growing up. She spent most of the weekend alone with me, this time no mommy or daddy, sleeping in the downstairs old fashioned high brass bed. That's a really comforting room. It's filled with kid-friendly old school photos and extended family memories.
It was really safe being here with mommy. But being a grown up Kinder, just turned six, maybe just maybe she could let Mom and Dad have an actual birthday date night. Hang out with me, sleep in the loft with me. And so she did.
One of my favorite classic kids' books is "Ira Sleeps Over", by Bernard Waber, 1972. I just love this book. Have you read it? It's a sweet story about the first sleep-over. Ira got really excited about going over to Reggie's house. But he had a problem. What do you think it is? He was afraid to bring his teddy bear and look like a baby. Life reduced to simplest terms.
Of course there are life lessons all the way through this book, but the parallel with our Kinder was taking the leap, that first separation leap of faith.
Beyond birthday parties, sleep-overs help our kiddos feel important, independent and show a little grit. Sleep-overs teach organizing, sequencing, learning what to pack, folding, and trusting our friends or nanas. Everything will be ok.
Lesson three: Packing takes time.
Packing trial run was a necessity. I stopped by my kids' house on the way home from school to see if Morgan was ready for the weekend. She was already packing on Thursday, and had way more than Ira did for his sleep-over at Reggie's. He pretty much was set with pjs, blankie, slippers and finally, Tah Tah, his teddy.
Morgan, another story. One suitcase was completely filled with favorite Dr. Seuss books. She could barely lift it. We compromised on two titles I didn't have in my collection (which we never read).
Morgan's rolling 'Morgan' bag was stuffed with matching and non-matching outfits and assorted shoes, leggings, slippers, movie star worthy. Stuffies, dolls including Snackin' Sara, a play dough consumer, (giant Barbie stayed home), light up glow-in-dark turtle, stars on ceiling. Blanket/s. Troll pillow. A lot of stuff!
Lesson Four: Plan a lot, expect nothing on your list.
I was so ready. Art gallery on U of O campus? A movie? Miniature golfing? Science Factory? Library downtown? My list overflowed a piece of paper. I offered all the ideas to Morgan. Of course, she had her very own and a lot of secrets and surprises.
Lesson Five: Remember Maslow.
Dramatic Play was what she wanted to do, plus go to dinner for sushi. Morgan had her own ideas about most things, from snack to non-schedule I had set. She decided to come right back to my house. First she checked to see things were the same. She hadn't been here much lately. And of course, what I had to eat here.
I was mostly over at my Eugene kids' house this hard-core winter. So it was critical to do an overall house inspection for her things. Her towels were out, little stools in the bathrooms, tub toys, princess plate and cup.
What was missing was my giant poodle Gus, who went to heaven after the recent life-altering Eugene storm. Morgan had not wanted to be here without Gus, added to no mommy or daddy. So that was another hurdle. Sometimes no perfect explanations.
Lesson six: Be fully present. No tech. Just one-on-one special time and memories being made.
Dramatic play and a walk to the school around the corner recess yard for outdoor time when it stopped raining.
Morgan loves to spend time in what she calls her "office". A tiny nook I put together, it's loaded with a writing center in mini, craft supplies, favorite books, etc. I couldn't figure out where colored pencils and art items were disappearing, then turned up in the piano bench she sits on.
Stashed the sheet music somehere. Bossy Teacher game, which I truly detest. Her teacher would laugh so hard, though. No time-out for me!
On went my old ballerina outfit, then my Mom's high heels, my Kimono, my fancy long dresses from family weddings. Darling. Just like her mama did.
Lesson seven: Forget cooking at Nana's.
Sat at sushi bar watching the chefs, eating healthy seaweed salad and Japanese food. Breakfast out, Snackin' Sarah came along, didn't need a high chair now. Bigger, like Morgan, not even a booster. Play dough- perfect eater. Mama love through a generation of Barbies, but this doll cracks me up.
After dinner, we put on the movie "Sing". Of course, exhausted I immediately fell asleep, cuddled up on the couch. About an hour past bedtime Morgan woke me saying "Nana I want to go to bed". LOL.
And finally, bedtime.
Up in our loft, adjusted the various lights and pillows, read Good-night Moon, Love You Forever (tears of course) and snuggled with my little peanut.
With those little fingers grasping my hand, I finally heard the comforting breathing, sounding just like her mama did when she was little, but getting bigger so fast. And she slept.
Children are our legacy on angels' wings. Morgan can't wait for our next sleep-over. She's coming this next weekend.
Now we'll know how to pack. Now we'll know not to plan. Now we'll know to let Morgan do her thing, with structure, of course. I am planning a trip to the new nearby bead store. I'd like to do some bead stringing there and maybe a project here. But I'll have to let you know, after all, Morgan has her own ideas.
In this time of uncertainties we live in, let us all share the joy of our children of all ages, finding peace, relaxation, freedom from worry, spending our time loving one another and serving others.
It all starts with that leap of faith.
Leaving footprints on your reading hearts, Rita