Family life

Anna's first sleepover

For Anna, it was no big deal, but Tracy had some nerves about her baby's first non-family sleepover.

By Tracy Chappell
Anna's first sleepover

All packed up and ready to go to her Sparks sleepover.

When you read this, Anna will be back home, safe and sound. But as I write it, she is having a sleepover with a group of people I barely know. Sleeping over! With virtual strangers!
In the words of Pink Owl: “Oh Mom! Don’t worry, it will all be fine.”
Yes, Anna is at her very first Sparks sleepover with 10 other young ladies, their mattresses and their lovies.
And lots of excitement. Anna was bubbling over with it yesterday when we packed. “You read the list and I’ll get the stuff,” she directed. Two t-shirts — “check!”; a sleeping buddy — “check!”; hair brush — “I’ll run downstairs and get it!”
“Do you have any butterflies in your tummy?” I asked her at bedtime. “I don’t know what you mean,” Anna said. I asked her: “Do you feel nervous?” and she told me, “No, I feel like it’s going to be fun. Do I have to eat the pancakes?” Suddenly Anna doesn’t like pancakes. “I’m sure they’ll have something else,” I told her.
So we took her rolly suitcase and her Sleeping Beauty doll and we set up her mattress and sleeping bag and ...we left her there. I had to remind her to kiss me and her sister goodbye before she ran out to the playground to join the other girls. “Do you want me to do 'bad dreams, bad dreams’ before I go?” I asked, referring to a ritual we do every night to ward off nightmares. “That’s a good idea,” she said. So we did it, then she was off. That was it.
“She’s excited,” I told Pink Owl as I left. “I see that. How are you doing, Mom?” she asked. “I’ll be OK,” I said. And I am, even though I keep wondering what she's doing right now. I'm not worried that she’ll be afraid or teary, but I'm just so curious about what she’ll do and how she’ll be there, with all those virtual strangers.
The morning after
Anna, of course, was just fine. Better than fine. I was eager to pick her up and found her playing tag, full of smiles (with a tummy full of fruit and cereal) and it made me smile too.
“I had fun!” she told us, and kissed Avery. “I missed you, Avery!” As we packed up her things, I wanted to know every detail. But first, we said goodbye to her leaders.
Pink Owl: “I’m not sure if she was the last one to bed, but she was one of the last. She’s going to need a nap.”
Me: “Uh oh. How late?”
Pink Owl: “About 11:30, I think.”
Me: “What??”
Pink Owl: “And she was one of the first ones up. At 6:15.”
Rainbow: “No she was the first one up, and it was 5:45!”
On the way home, Anna told us about the beading and the painting and the treasure hunt with flashlights. The books and the songs and the long walk around the neighbourhood. She seemed 10 feet tall, puffed up with pride and enthusiasm (or was she manic with sleep deprivation?) as she showed me the new badge she earned. And while the monumental nature of this sleepover didn’t seem quite the same for her as it was for me, I know that the next time she has to try something new, she’s going to have this experience to remind her of everything she’s capable of.
And I realized that because of this, and so many other reasons, I’m incredibly happy that Anna has gotten involved in the Girl Guides organization. She is loving the experience and I’m loving everything it represents. (I just wish I didn't love the cookies so much.)

This article was originally published on Apr 23, 2012

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