His first sleepover. Success!
For a few months now Bright Eyes has been at me to let him go on a sleepover. "Aren't I old enough?" he's asked me. "When did my sister start having sleepovers?"
Of course the reason he hasn't been on any sleepovers is because he hasn't been invited on any sleepovers, but that's just kinda heartbreaking to say out loud, so I've tried to avoid the topic. He's been more and more persistent about it, so finally a couple of weeks ago, after his little brother was invited on a sleepover, I decided to take action.
If he wasn't getting any invitations, I would do some inviting for him.
I chatted to a friend whose 10 year old, J, is in Bright Eyes' class. We've had a few playdates with him before and I know that he finds it difficult to make friends, even though he's not 'on the spectrum'. He's a quiet, sweet kid who loves to read and when I mentioned the word 'sleepover' his mum's eyes lit up.
"That would be great," she said. "He doesn't get many invitations either."
We arranged it to happen two weeks later, and whenever I saw J at school in that fortnight he smiled at me with excitement. The whole thing was very promising. The day before, we ran through a few ideas about things they could do together, focusing especially on J's interests and brainstorming about what could happen if they get bored.
On the morning of the big day, Bright Eyes woke me up. "It's sleepover day today! When is J coming?"
"Not until 3," I said. I hadn't told him that I'd deliberately kept the time short, just in case they didn't click or play well, especially with the extra overnight hours.
When J finally arrived, he and Bright Eyes got straight into play. I'm not sure what they were doing upstairs for two and a half hours before dinner but I believe it was a mix of trains and books. We ate dinner around the table. Bright Eyes and he told jokes to each other and to the rest of us, and we managed to curtail the poo/wee/fart jokes that Bright Eyes was super keen on.
After that, they had to negotiate together what movie they were going to watch. It was a complicated task, but they eventually picked one that everyone agreed on, with only one prompt from me.
Going to bed was simple and they were both asleep at 8.45. In the morning they ate breakfast and when Bright Eyes was taking too long J called him. "Come on! Let's do something before my mum comes to pick me up." They tested trains, played the ipod and then hung outside before his mum arrived at 9.30. Bright Eyes hung around to say goodbye and said to J, "You're my best friend. I hope I get to be in the same room as you on the school excursion."
I was nervous, but I hadn't needed to be. The two of them sorted themselves out. While I still don't think they were quite peers - Bright Eyes was still the less able partner emotionally, I was very proud of how well he did and how generous and flexible he was as a host.
"I'm very proud of how well you treated your friend," I told him tonight.
"That's in the past, mum," he said.
"Yeah, but sometimes you need to look back on how you did in the past so that you can move into the future," I said.
The sleepover was a great step forward in confidence and competence for him, and I hope for more to come.