Monday, November 9, 2009


Our children had a sleepover last weekend. It was with the family we do most things with here. It is wonderful to find real friends when you are abroad. It can take a long time. They have made the biggest difference in us feeling settled & at home here. We do have a small group of friends here now, but they are the only family we are close to. The down side is I always feel we should spread ourselves thinner, have more options, than always be relying on the same friends to do things with. Our children, it seems, have no such qualms. Our son, aged 9, & our daughter, aged 5, get on famously with their 2 girls aged 8 & 9 & their son aged 5 (in fact he's our daughter's best friend/'Prospective Son-in-Law & recipient of kisses.)

They car share every day/play tennis once a week, go to football practice & (apart from the 8 yr old) are all in the same classes, yet still they badger us for play dates. I love the fact that on sleepovers my son aged 9 happily shares a room with their 5 yr old, chatting & playing animatedly with him. And the girls get on very well with my 5 yr old daughter. I love the fact that they all mix & match & get on so well, much as it would be in a big family (in between the squabbling of course) where you play with a wide range of ages. 3rd culture kids do this all the time too. You have to make friends with, & play, with whoever is available in places where there aren't always that many options... It's advantages are that it really teaches your children to be adaptable, flexible & to make the best of the situation they're in.

So the children were wildly excited, they love these sleepovers so much they don't even miss us, or have the slightest wobble. We, too, have often gone away together for a few days even when the children were very small so it was nothing new. We were looking forward to a night out & a Sunday morning lie in.

Except on the following morning I remembered; I hated sleepovers. It's worse than a trip away because we are in our own home, but without the children. It always feels like a foretaste of the empty nest & I'm not ready for that, not even for a little premonition of what it will be like, even though it suddenly dawned on me that our son is, at 9 1/2, slightly more than half way through his childhood at home now.

You wake to the sound of silence. The flat suddenly seems to have expanded & developed echoes. No-one comes bouncing into bed, no clattering of plates as our son lays breakfast (a self appointed task); there's no murmuring & discussion, audible from the next door room, as the children play with a mish mash of lego, 'My Little Pony' & playmobil. Light sabers meet hair accessories, miniature lego ogres battle glittery baby ponies.

I love those sounds, so familiar I hardly register them anymore (like the constantly barking dogs) Until they stop.

To be fair the 'coming into our bed' routine has recently all but stopped. With our son it went on till he was 7, but now he has a sister to play with, who is much less interested in stories, so they play instead. He still comes in for a story occasionally & they always come in to tell us to get up or to ask us to help with something.

Our daughter is much more independent than our son though. So last Sunday, having felt the lack of them on Saturday, my husband called out to our daughter in her bedrooom "Would you like a story?"
"No thank you Daddy."
So I tried:
"Would you like to join us in our nice warm bed?"
Politely, but more firmly, "No thank you mummy, I'm busy playing."

I can see I'm going to be useless at this 'letting go' lark, whereas my daughter has it sussed already.


Iota said...

You could pretend you need protecting from the lego ogres...

How nice that you have a family to rub shoulders with. It makes such a difference, as you say.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Another family that have kids more or less a similar age and that you like. How wonderful, it must make all the difference.

We don't have that here. We have some dear friends who are wonderful with the kids, but not a family with other children. I really really miss that.

nappy valley girl said...

I do love the boys coming into my bed for a morning cuddle (as long as it's not before 6am, in which case I am quite bad-tempered). It really is the most delicious time of day and I can't bear the thought of them being too old for it.

But lovely for them to have friends...