My in-laws have been dying to keep Ciaran overnight - they've even got a kids room all set up, not to mention some 30-odd acres of farmland complete with sheep, chickens, wild turkeys and rabbits.
And tractors. Big, shiny red tractors that my machine-obsessed child goes apesh!t over. Those, and anything in the color red. So red tractors? Are da bomb as far as Ciaran is concerned.
But time and time again, when I'd ask if he'd like to have a sleepover at Noninna's, he'd nod but then quickly ask, "You're coming too, right Mommy?" Now, not to judge or slam my mother-in-law here - she is a wonderful, generous, woman. But she would totally tell him "Oh yes, Mommy is staying too." I, on the other hand, can't tell him those kinds of untruths.
Yeah, sure, I do still tell him The Man is coming if he doesn't stop playing with the washing machine, vacuum cleaner, (insert practically any mechanical object here). But I could never lie for the sake of making him stay overnight. I have
Then one day he mentioned that he wanted to sleep over at Noninna's - without insisting that I be there. Before he could change his mind, I packed his bag and called my mother-in-law to tell her what she'd been waiting 2 years to hear.
But, as anxious as I was to finally have a child-free night, albeit during the middle of the week (beggars really can not be choosers, y'all), it's hard watching him become more and more independent.
I worried that come nighttime, he'd realize I wasn't there to read him a story, scratch his back and do all our other little bedtime rituals. What if he freaked out in the middle of the night and wanted to come home, I asked Tony. He assured me he'd drive the 45 minutes north to go and pick him up.
We called after dinner and I pressed my ear to the phone, listening to him recount breathlessly how much fun he was having. The rest of the night I half-expected the phone to ring, telling us to bring him back home, but the call never came.
Excited to see my little monkey the next day, I imagined him running up the driveway, his arms spread open to greet me the way he often does when I fetch him from daycare.
Except that was so not how it went down. Instead? He started crying the instant he saw me, kicking and refusing to get out of my MIL's car. We finally pried him out of his car seat, MIL repeating over and over how he didn't want to come home, how he begged to stay there one more night, making me feel oh-so-peachy at that particularly stressful moment.
Inside, he proceeded to scream at the top of his lungs for 45 minutes. Straight. No break. I was seriously gonna lose my marbles. I walked away and washed my hair while he curled up on the sofa and kept wailing away.
Later that night when the demons finally retreated and I was tucking him into bed, I casually mentioned how he must have really enjoyed his sleepover. He got all quiet and I thought: Here it comes. That knife into my heart. He'll straight out disown me after one night of no rules and a ridiculously late bedtime, not having to eat his veggies and a huge bowl of chocolate ice cream...
Then he looked at me and said in the sweetest little voice ever, "It wasn't THAT fun, Mommy. I just really liked playing with the tractor."