I am grateful for a "parenting 101" wake-up call from Henry.
Tonight about 9:30 p.m., Henry walked home teary-eyed from a sleepover at his friend Matthew's house - - well, a near-sleepover....
Matthew lives across the street from us. Henry decided he didn't want to stay after all. He said he was scared. He said missed us too much.
We spent a good 20 minutes in a state of total sadness and struggle and anger. Henry was really conflicted. Part of him clearly wanted to go back. He wanted to sleep over and have fun and be a big kid. But, it was scary at the same time. Thankfully though, that's all over now. Henry is upstairs, sleeping soundly in his own bed. Despite a bit of leftover disappointment, he was clearly relieved. He wanted to be home. And so he is.
This whole big drama made me realized that this situation was pretty much my fault: I NEVER ASKED HENRY IF HE WANTED TO GO TO A SLEEPOVER!!! I just said "Yes!" when the invitation was offered. Of course Henry would want to go. Of course. How fun. Henry and his buddy were going to sleep outside in a camper and tell stories and fall asleep listening to the crickets. Fun, fun, fun!!
But did I remember to ask Henry what he thought about the sleep over? Nope. Mom forgot that tiny little detail. (oops!)
I also forgot that this would have been his first sleepover at someone's house, other than family.
Seriously, what was I thinking? I guess Henry plays with Matthew all the time, so I didn't give an overnight much thought. But clearly, a sleepover is a whole different beast.
In all honesty, I'm not sure what Henry would have said if I had asked him if he wanted to go ahead of time. My guess is that he may have said yes, but he may have hesitated too. He really is pretty tuned in to his feelings and what he feels comfortable with. At least we would have been more prepared and maybe could have avoided the situation that ensued this evening . . . .
I've also concluded that maybe I push a little too much. Henry's natural tendency is to shy away from social situations. He is way like me in this regard. So, I overcompensate for him (and for me . . . ). I've been setting up all these play dates this summer, keeping him connected with his friends and in the social groove. And although I do it with the best intentions, Henry simply may not be ready for all of this. He may not want this. Really, he is only six!!!
So, next time, I'll ask first. And even more importantly, I'll listen to the answer. Really hear what Henry is telling me. And, I'll remember to practice the same mantra that I've used since he was born. The one that hasn't failed me yet - - "Trust Henry."
Or maybe I need a whole new matra for myself: "Hey mama - just shut up and THINK before you speak/act/do something that will wreak family havoc at 10:30 p.m.!!" (boy the problems I could solve if I could just put that one into practice!)