I have this friend. Let’s call her M. M has a daughter a little younger than Rio, who we’ll call N.

M and I like to do a lot of things together, and one of our favorite games is Bad Plan Theater. That’s when we come up with a plan so crazy it just might work – like flying to California on a whim or walking down the abandoned railroad tracks just to see where they go.

On this week’s episode of Bad Plan Theater, we decided to indulge our daughters in the slumber party they’ve been asking for since last summer. What could go wrong?

So many things. The mamas could be tired and a little cranky. The pizza could be cold. The clean laundry basket could get ‘discovered’ by the kids and turned into a vehicle that spews laundry around the house. Storytime could mysteriously take 90 minutes. Little N could find it impossible to sleep with a guest in her room.

But what actually had us packing our bags at 9:30 at night to head home was Rio, my big, strong, independent child, breaking down into tears for just one little moment in the dark and saying, “Mommy, I want to sleep in my bed! I want my Daddy!”

This lasted only a moment. I said yes, of course she could go home. Slumber parties are never required. I finished the story I was telling to N, while Rio bounced up, said a tender good-night to her friend and fled downstairs. I ran into her at the door, where she was slipping her sparkly-silver-Wizard-of-Oz slippers on over her PJ feet and cheerfully saying goodnight to our host.

“Good-bye, M!” she said. “I’m going to go home and sleep in my own bed. Thank you for the offer, though.”

Thank you for the offer? That child has better manners than I do.

I’m proud of her for being polite and collected and clear about her needs. I am also secretly relieved that sleeping over at a friend’s house for the first time turned out to be a scary prospect for her. She’s so tough, it’s easy to forget she’s also a small girl still. I’m glad she can still be vulnerable with me when she needs to, and that she’s not really 5 going on 30.

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