“I want to be older so I can have friends! It’s never going to happen. Never!” Preston wailed. His five year old body trembled in my arms as pathetic sobs wracked his body. His sister, Eden, sat cross legged on the floor, her tears falling silently onto her pants. She wasn’t angry about her age like Preston, she was upset because she’d been rejected. Her brother, Gabe and his friend didn’t want tagalongs during their sleepover.
“No one wants to be my friend” she said to me, her voice breaking. I reached out for her and she fell into me. I pulled them both close and tried to make my arms big enough to absorb the hurt and frustration. Sometimes though, hugs just aren’t enough.
“Well you guys can have a sleepover too” I said hastily.
They were doubtful at first. They share a room and sleep together every night so my variation better be good. I painted the idea with my words. Sleeping bags, and mattresses on the floor, a camping trip in their own bedroom. Eden quietly mulled over the suggestion while Preston bounced on my lap. He was sold at “sleeping bags”. I looked down at my daughter who was still hidden in my ribs. She was always the hard sell and as usual she had an amendment she wished to add.
“Sleep with us” she requested her voice muffled in my shirt. I hesitated, their bedtime is my alone time. “Please” she added, “You can be my best friend.”
I groaned inwardly. There was no way I could turn down a request as innocent and sweet as that – I didn’t think she’d understand my Downton Abbey addiction. I agreed, but clarified that I’d only stay for as long as it took them to fall asleep. They accepted my terms and the bargain was struck. My husband, Scott, helped me pull the mattresses off the beds and Preston eagerly passed me the sleeping bags. I unfolded them and both kids slipped inside. My husband said good-bye and I shut the bedroom door behind him. I turned off the light and moved towards their excited chatter. I stepped gingerly between them, careful not to crush little limbs under my size eight feet and laid down. My daughter giggled in delight. She draped her arm across my stomach and sighed.
I stared out the window and spied one lone star.
“Star light, star bright. First star I see tonight. I wish I may, I wish I might. Have the wish, I wish tonight. I wish that my children are always healthy and happy” I stated. Preston rubbed his nose against my cheek and whispered that he loved me. Eden asked me to repeat the poem and so I led them in their wishes for the next half an hour. Over and over again they made demands on that twinkling ball of plasma.
“I wish I could fly” Eden said.
“I wish that a cotton candy store and a popcorn store opens across the street!” Preston cried enthusiastically.
“I wish that mommy gets to live forever” Eden murmured in my ear.
“I wish that in two days I get to watch a movie at the movie theatre!” Preston shouted.
“I wish no bad guy comes and hurts us because I want us to be together forever” Eden stated solemnly.
Preston nodded, “Yeah. That’s a good one”.
We laid side by side sharing stories and wishes. We watched as a satellite passed our special star and a plane soared over head. We spoke about the moon and black holes and alternate universes. The kids laughed imagining themselves in different lives – Eden as a boy and Preston as an only child! They wondered how long it would take to get to Mars (only 8 months or so) and if the moon was as small as it looked from here. We shuffled to the ends of the mattresses so we could see more of the night sky and I showed them the Big Dipper constellation – Preston said it looked like a spoon and wondered if we could find a constellation that looked like him. Eden fell asleep first, her face turned towards mine, her gentle breath in my ear. Preston played beside me, making gun noises and animal sounds until he finally petered out. I tiptoed from their room and stood outside the door wondering why I’d never done this before. I felt grateful that I spent this quality time with my kids where set routines and roles were put aside and for a moment I wasn’t just a mom but also a best friend…