Tag Archives: sleepover

Sleepovers, Staycations, Sixteen Hours & Other Words Beginning With the Letter “S”

Emma’s having a sleepover!

Yesterday I wrote here about how Emma has been asking for several months to have a sleepover at my cousin’s house.  This began after they invited Nic to come stay with them.  It has become painfully clear that  Emma, though she said nothing at the time, wanted to go too.  However, arranging this is impossible.  They are a couple in their 70’s and while I adore them and am close to them, I cannot ask them to have her.   They do not know her well, Emma’s language is limited, her routines plentiful, I would need to accompany her, which would be awkward.  So no, that’s not going to happen.

After I wrote yesterday’s post, I received a wonderfully thoughtful email from Emma’s therapist, Joe, suggesting she come for a sleepover at his and his gorgeous wife’s house along with his wife’s god daughter, who came to Emma’s ninth birthday party, this weekend.  Nic will be at the beach with his friend.  Emma will be with Joe and Angelica.  Which means….  drum roll please… Richard and I will have about sixteen hours to be together, just the two of us.   Sixteen hours.

Woohoo!  Oh yeah, baby! (Insert little snoopy like dance of pure, unadulterated ecstasy, here.)  Other than our ‘Staycation‘ in February, also thanks to Joe, Richard and I do not get a great deal of “just the two of us” time.  Don’t misunderstand, I’m not complaining, it’s just a fact of our lives, making Emma’s impending sleepover all the more fabulous.  It must be noted that Joe is contributing to the continued well-being of my marriage, in addition to providing Emma with her desire for a sleepover.

So last night after confirming that this was indeed happening, I went to find Emma.  “Hey Em!  Guess what?”  Silence.  “Do you want to have a sleepover with Joe and Angelica this weekend?”


“Do you remember Madison?”  Emma nods her head yes.  “Madison will be there too!  Do you want to go?”


Later Emma came to me and put her hand on my shoulder.  “Go to Angelica’s house for sleepover?”

“Yes, this weekend.  Are you excited?”

“Yeah!  I’m excited.  Go to Angelica’s house with Madison, Oliver and Trovel.  Go sleep in Central Park.”

If you are as baffled as I am by this, then welcome to my confusion.  I have no idea who Oliver and Trovel are, why they are sleeping in Central Park, of all unlikely places or why Emma thinks it’s a good idea to join them.  How Angelica is involved in this is also a mystery.  As I sat looking at her and trying to figure out which question I should ask first I decided to tackle the name Trovel.  “Do you mean Trevor?”

“Trouble,”  Emma said, carefully articulating the word as one might to a very small child or a foreigner.   “Oliver and Trouble,” Emma added.  She waited staring meaningfully at me.

“Okay.  Who are Oliver and Trouble?”

The look on her face was the equivalent to Nic’s disgusted and embarrassed shrug and eye roll combo. “Have sleepover with Oliver and Trouble.  Going to sleep in Central Park.”

After a number of questions I came up empty.  Finally I said, “But Em, don’t you want to have a sleepover this weekend with Joe?”

“Yes!  Sleepover at Angelica’s house!  I’m so excited!”  Emma grinned at me and then turned on a YouTube video of some arbitrary family’s home movie of themselves riding the Central Park carousel.  It’s one of Emma’s favorite videos and whenever she watches it I wonder what this family would think if they knew they’ve provided hours of entertainment for my daughter by posting to the public their slightly weird video.  I say slightly weird because the man, I’m assuming the father, looks into the camera and discusses at great length which horse he plans to ride.  Emma loves it.

Sixteen, stupendous, spectacular hours, people!

I couldn’t find a photo of roses to go with the caption – Things are coming up roses.  This photo taken in Central Park of tulips will have to do.  Things are coming up tulips! 

My latest piece My Fear Toolkit published in the Huffington Post

That Pesky Issue of Death and The Desire For a Sleepover

“Have a sleepover with Susan and Peter?”  Emma mumbles.  It’s early.  I’m tired.  I  didn’t sleep well, blinding headache, and it’s 6:07AM.

“What time is it?” Richard asks in that groggy-first-words-spoken-in-the-morning kind of voice.

“Six ten,” I reply, optimistically rounding up, hoping those added three minutes will serve to soften the blow.  In case any of you are wondering, Richard is NOT a morning person.  Anything earlier than 7:00AM causes him tremendous pain.  I can hear Richard’s slow intake of breath.  I imagine I can feel his exhaustion.  No wait, that’s mine, never mind.

“I want a sleepover,” Emma says, more loudly this time in case we hadn’t heard her the first time.

I know why Emma is saying this.  Nic has been invited to spend the long Memorial Day weekend with his friend.  He’s leaving Saturday morning and won’t be home until Monday.  Emma overheard Richard and I discussing this.  Emma overhears a great deal.  Emma pretty much knows more about what goes on in our house than I do.  She’s got her finger on the pulse of what’s happening.  And she wants in.

My heart feels as though it’s in a vice grip and simultaneously I feel euphoric.  It’s that bizarre feeling of holding two opposing feelings at once.  This is a rough version of my panicked inner dialogue:   What am I going to say?  This is so great!  How do I tell her my cousins will not be inviting her for a sleepover at their house?  We’ve been through this before.  How do I explain why it is that her brother, Nic, gets invited to sleepovers all the time, but she has never been invited to one?  But she’s asking to have a sleepover, which is fantastic and heartbreaking at the same time.   What can I say that’s honest, but not so honest it will hurt her feelings?  How do I explain what a sleepover entails?  How do I explain the intricacies of sleepovers, that it’s not just sleeping in a strange bed and then coming back home, that there’s so much more to it?  Maybe I don’t need to.  Maybe I need to figure out a version of a sleepover.  Does she understand that I don’t accompany Nic on his sleepovers?  I think she does, but I’m not sure she cares.  

“How about this?” I finally say, measuring my words.  “How about we have a sleepover at Granma’s in June?”  I wait as she stares at me.  She doesn’t say anything.  It’s as though she’s thinking – are you kidding me?  That’s not a sleepover.  That’s a visit.  We do that all the time.  What, you think I don’t get that?  I smile at her, encouragingly.

“Sleepover at Peter and Susan’s.”

Oh boy.  “Um.  Well.  No.  We can’t do that, babe.”

“In August,” Emma says with the tone of one who has tired of the conversation.  There’s a finality to her voice.  Case closed.  There will be no more argument.  She turns her back to me.

Should I let this drop?  Just leave it alone?  But I know there won’t be any sleepover at my cousin’s house in August.  Shouldn’t I tell her that?  I’m reminded of friends of ours who have two, now grown, adult children.   This was when Nic, then four years old, wanted to know about death.  As in – would we die?  What would happen when we died?  Who would take care of him? –  Our friends advised us to lie to him.  “Just tell him you’re never going to die.  He needs reassurance.  He’s just a little kid.”

“But that’s dishonest,” one of us responded.

To which they replied, “Yeah, but if you both die, he’ll be worried about a great deal more than your dishonesty, trust me.  That will be the least of his concerns.”

So…  We didn’t take their advice.  Instead we patiently and carefully explained to Nic that everyone dies, but assured him that we were not going to die for a very long time.  Richard went so far as to say that he was pretty sure medicine would soon solve the whole “death problem” and was convinced that he, anyway, would never die at all, ever.  Eventually Nic, either tiring of our tedious and spurious claims, or just as likely, deciding our responses were so lame he couldn’t cope with them anymore, stopped asking us about death.

I thought about using a similar technique with Emma, but I’m pretty sure she’s made up her mind, regardless of what I may have to say.  She’s very determined.

Emma’s “sleepover” at our cabin

My latest piece My Fear Toolkit published in the Huffington Post

Sleepovers, Siblings and Autism

I have to begin by pointing out our redesigned, upgraded and improved site!  (If you could see me I look like Carol Merrill in front of door #1 on Let’s Make a Deal.  I’m waving my arm up and down, pausing at all the new, awesome features, while smiling invitingly.  Okay, totally dating myself on that one.)

A few months ago my cousin, Peter and his wife invited Emma’s older brother, Nic to come to their home for a “sleepover.”  On the designated and much anticipated afternoon, Nic and I took the subway uptown to their home.  I got Nic settled and discussed when we should come to retrieve him.   It was decided that we would all come the following morning for a breakfast of pancakes and then be on our way.  (My cousin is actually close to my mother’s age, yet I feel particularly close to him and his wife.)

When I returned home Emma had just returned from a full day of activities.  We had told Emma that Nic would be spending the night with “cousin Peter and Susan” several days before and she seemed to take it all in stride.  The next morning as planned we went to pick up Nic, ate a lovely breakfast that Susan had prepared for us, and left, thanking them profusely.

Yesterday, now at least a month later if not more, Emma announced, “Go sleep over at Susan and Peter’s house.”

Thinking she meant that she wanted Nic to go there again and that she had so enjoyed our night with Richard and me all to herself, I said, “Oh!  You want Nicky to go back to Peter and Susan’s house?”

“Yeah!”  she said, nodding her head vigorously.  Then she came closer to me and said, “Go with Nicky?”

“You want to go with Nicky to Peter and Susan’s house?”

“No.  Just Emma.”

Confused, I said, “You want to go to Peter and Susan’s by yourself?”

“Yes.”  She looked at me expectantly.  “Spend the night at Susan and Peter’s!  Nicky stay home.”

It was one of those moments when you feel overjoyed, but also filled with sadness.  How could I tell her this was unlikely to happen?  How could I explain that Peter and Susan might not invite her?  How could I explain that this was not something I could ask them to do?  As my mind whirled around trying to figure out how to respond, Emma began to cry.

“Go to Peter and Susan’s house.  Sleep at Susan and Peter’s house.  Tonight.”

The longer I remained silent the more she upped the ante.  I glanced over at Richard with a look of desperation.  A look that said – how are we going to deal with this?

Richard explained that tonight we were going to have dinner and then go up on the roof.  We brought out a calendar and ticked off the upcoming activities we had planned.  We tried to explain to her that we couldn’t invite ourselves over to people’s homes.  (This was way to complicated and too much information.)  And the whole time I kept thinking how do we explain?  How do we say this simply?  As she became more fixated on the idea, she began repeating it over and over again in between tears.  Everything we said, “Not tonight, Em.”  or “Maybe over the summer,”  did little to satisfy her.

Eventually I brushed her and did joint compressions.  She seemed calmed by this and we talked about pressure and how she prefers firm long strokes, not light strokes.  We both did some breathing exercises together and the fixation on going to her cousin’s house seemed to dissipate.  Later Richard put on music for her and we danced.

After I had put Emma to bed and read stories to her, I said to Richard, “You know there’s a really positive side to this.  She’s showing her desire for independence.  It’s pretty amazing.”  We discussed how this represented so many terrific leaps forward for Emma.  She is eager for more independence, is cognizant of Nic having sleepovers, and wants to have that experience too.

It’s all good.  (Where did that expression originate, by the way?!)  But it is.  It’s all good.

For more on Emma’s journey through a childhood of autism, go to:   Emma’s Hope Book

For my latest Huffington Post:  HuffPo