Chickadee was invited to a (co-ed, if it matters) birthday party for today. Said party was taking place at a local campground. Because it was a camp-out.
Now, I will fully acknowledge that I am an over-protective mama, but I found this very, very weird. I don’t know this kid, and I don’t know his parents. And despite the fact that I regularly spent a MONTH at sleep-away camp every summer by the time I was 8, and these were 9- and 10-years-olds, I found a party invitation to go sleep in the woods bizarre.
The party was slated to begin at 4, and I RSVPed to the hosts letting them know that Chickadee would be delighted to come for the evening but would likely not sleep over. This prompted the mom to mail me back with a veritable resume of their camping expertise, I suppose to ease my mind that she’d be in good hands if I elected to let her stay. She also offered up a sleeping bag and a tent, as if perhaps she thought this was a decision born of a lack of proper camping equipment.
And it WAS somewhat about not having the proper equipment, only it wasn’t a tent and such that I was worried about. Overprotectiveness aside, the first and last time Chickadee went camping was not such a rousing success, if you recall. “But it was HOT then, Mama,” she pleaded. “This is different. I’ll be FINE!” She spent the week lobbying to be allowed to stay over. She spoke of little else, and I staunchly maintained that she could spend the evening but would come home to sleep. “It has nothing to do with YOU,” I kept telling her. “It’s just that I’m your mama and my job is to worry, and I’m not sure I’m comfortable with letting you sleep out in the woods with people I don’t know.”
By a couple of days ago, my resolve was starting to erode. She begged and begged, pointing out that she’s NEARLY TEN and that she REALLY WANTED TO and that the mom has come into her class a bunch of times and is REALLY REALLY NICE and she was going to be the ONLY ONE who wasn’t allowed to stay and camp. I started thinking that maybe I really WAS being stupidly overprotective. Chickadee begged me to discuss it with her dad, and then begged me to discuss it with Otto, and I’m sure she would’ve begged me to discuss it with anyone else she could think of who might sway my decision.
And then Monkey came down with a cold, and by last night Chickadee was sniffling a bit.
This morning she continued to lay on the couch even after Otto announced that there were pancakes on the table, and I told her that if she wasn’t well enough to have breakfast, she wasn’t well enough to go to the party at ALL. (Young lady, you will eat these pancakes and you will LIKE THEM! I want to see BUTTER ON YOUR FORK!) She rallied and seemed fine, but I reiterated that she would be coming home tonight.
In the afternoon, she accompanied me to the grocery store while we left the boys here at home.
“Mom?” she asked, while we picked out a bunch of bananas, “If the other kids ask, can I just say that you’re not letting me stay because I have a cold?”
I gave her a quick hug and a kiss on the head. “Sure, sweetie. You can blame the whole thing on me. Tell them you argued ALL WEEK but I am just a great big meanie who won’t let you go.”
“Well, no,” she said, “I just figured saying it’s because of my cold would be better than saying ‘I can’t stay because my mom is a great big WORRYWART.'” We giggled together. “I mean,” she continued, “I guess I COULD say that, but it seems like it would just be easier to blame the cold.”
I nodded. “That’s fine. You can tell everyone you really wanted to stay.” She smiled and ducked her head, unwittingly letting me know that this was what she was after.
We dropped her off this afternoon intending to spend several hours running errands and maybe taking Monkey out to dinner… but on our first post-drop-off stop, Monkey curled up in a chair like a sleepy kitten, and we decided he really wasn’t feeling well enough to be out. We came home and I put him to bed early, which meant that Otto had to go out and fetch Chickadee.
When they came back, Chickadee made a beeline for me (I was sitting on the couch) and collapsed into my lap, snuggling in and showing me a snail shell she’d found. I asked if she’d had fun and she said she had, but that she was very tired now. I let her sit with me a few minutes while I asked questions about the party, and her eyelids drooped and she sighed as I brushed her hair back from her forehead.
Finally I whispered, “You didn’t really want to sleep there, did you?”
Her eyes stayed closed as she shook her head against my chest. “I want to sleep in my bed,” she murmured.
“That’s what I thought.” I kissed her forehead. “Did you tell everyone I was making you come home because of your cold?” She nodded. “Good girl. Let’s get you into bed.”
Funny, but I have never before been quite so delighted to take the fall.