When I was six, my separation anxiety from my parents was at its peak. The thought of a sleepover was utterly terrifying, which is why my parents thought that maybe sleeping over at my Auntie Melanie’s, one of my very special, chosen Aunties would be a good stepping stone before staying at a friend’s house.
The scariest part of a sleepover was always the sleeping part so I made a plan before I went to Auntie Mel’s house that we were to follow. It was designed to change activities in half-hour increments and went all the way until eight in the morning so I could avoid sleeping at all costs. My Dad and I met Auntie Melanie for lunch, then I took my mini red and green rolling suitcase out of my Dad’s car and Auntie Melanie drove me to her house. I was really nervous, but I knew if I just followed my plan everything would be okay. When we arrived at her home, I showed Auntie Mel my detailed itinerary. She was amazing. She did not let on that she feared she would not sleep all night, and she told me it was a great plan and was happy to go along with every step of my agenda. Immediately, I felt comforted and relaxed. Okay, this is all going to be alright. We started the second we stepped into her place. First, we played with the marbles she collected over the years, then we organized said marbles, then we organized the marbles in a different way. Then we had a snack. Then we read a book. Having babysat my fair share of kids at this point in my life I look back at my Auntie Mel on this day with only the utmost admiration. I cannot believe she went along with every single thing, and she didn’t even drag her feet through the process.
Then it was time for dinner. However, something weird happened. Auntie Melanie’s boyfriend, Todd, came over. I did not know Todd. I did not particularly like Todd, and most importantly, Todd was not a part of my plan. I let him stay through dinner figuring he would leave shortly thereafter, and we could get back to the scheduled programming, but he did not seem to want to leave. He even brought me a book in an attempt to win my admiration, which I politely thanked him for and then requested to speak with Auntie Melanie privately in the kitchen.
“Auntie Melanie, Todd is not on my schedule,” I said.
Since she is the most remarkable human being ever, she promptly told Todd that he had to go. I also took a moment to let Auntie Melanie know that I did not think Todd was right for her, apparently, I was a ridiculously blunt six-year-old.
We were able to get back to my schedule—finally. We were approaching four-thirty in the morning, and I saw Auntie Melanie was getting tired, and I became alarmed. We still had so many things left on the schedule!!! She asked if we could sleep for just a few hours and then get back to the schedule, and I begrudgingly, but sweetly, acquiesced. She said she just needed until eight o’clock. So at about seven fifty-nine, I got as close as I could to her face without actually touching her and stared at her, willing her to wake up. I hated and still hate waking people up directly, so I always have found inventive ways to do such things. I figured staring at her would do the trick, and I was right. Auntie Melanie popped out of bed much more gingerly than I deserved, and we went downstairs because the next thing on my list was to make hot cocoa.
Now, not having given Auntie Melanie a copy of the schedule prior to my visit (rookie mistake) she was not adequately prepared with hot cocoa powder. Nonetheless she, of course, saved the day by having chocolate chips and milk, and we attempted to make a hot cocoa of sorts. We sipped hot chocolate and had a yummy breakfast, and I felt much more relaxed having been through the whole sleeping part of the sleepover ordeal. We finished breakfast, and moments later my Dad was there to pick me up, and I ran into his arms. I was so beyond happy to see him but so sad to leave Auntie Melanie. He promised I would see her again soon, which was not a lie, and off we went so that she could take a nap, and I could make some more plans.
My little girl tendency to make lists and plans as a means of controlling situations has extended into my adult life, too. It makes it really hard to be okay when plans change. I am not someone who easily rolls with the punches. I love things to be planned out and to know exactly what is going to happen. Unfortunately, that just is not the way life works. Everything is always shifting on its axis and the whole world, and even me, it seems, is changing, too. As I get older I have had to learn that you can have as many plans as you want, but you have to be okay when things veer off the deep-end, too. The surprises—both good and bad—teach us lessons and make life beautiful. I don’t have to be afraid of falling off balance because I will get back up, and maybe even learn a thing or two, and sometimes I can even get back to the plan I had in the first place.
Happy day, friends. Here’s to opening ourselves up to change and when plans slip from our fingertips and morph into something even more magical than we imagined–even if not immediately, then eventually. I love you. XOXO, CAMDW