We're thinking in case of an emergency, it might be a good idea if the boys got used to possibly sleeping at Grandmas house. Since Andy has been a Grandma Boy lately, and didn't want to go home the last couple of visits, Grandma thought it might be time to start letting them have Grandma Sleepovers, where they spend a night at Grandma's house, one at a time.
For our first attempt, we asked which boy would like to stay with Grandma, and the volunteer was Joey. That was a surprise, but we went with it, because after all, he's the one that is going to have the harder time. We called Grandma, and it was settled. Joey was going for his first sleepover!
i helped Joey pack his bag, and talk about his trip. We talked about things he might do with Grandma, how this would be special time with Grandma, and how he would be staying there, and Mommy and Daddy and Andy would go home, while he stayed at Grandma's house. We made sure we had LittleBear and fresh pajamas and his good toothbrush.
We drove out to Grandma's, talking about what was happening. Andy started getting antsy and saying he wanted to stay with Grandma, so we had to assure him he would have a turn. The assurances were not altogether successful.
Once at Grandma's, we had a little visit, then it was time to go. Boys were hungry. Joey started saying he didn't want to stay today. We assured Joey we would see him in the morning. Grandma offered pizza for dinner, something Joey is starting to like to eat because of the new infatuation with Chuck E. Cheese. We hugged him and kissed him and let Andy say goodbye, and we were off.
We drove out of sight, waited a few minutes, then called Grandma.
All was not well.
Apparently he returned to Grandma, shaking, and talking about "the machine has left me" and "going to the beach!" Grandma asked us to come back. He was holding together- barely. He was unhappy. This wasn't fun.
When I returned, I tried to act casual. Joey was hugging Grandma, and she was assuring him that we wouldn't go to the beach without him. He was pretty red. As Grandma pointed out that I was back, he looked at me and said, "Mommy! Why did you come back?" All the sudden, he wanted to stay at Grandma's. Only he didn't want Mom to leave. Or "the machine" (which is a new name for the car, apparently). He was especially upset about the car leaving. Mom and Dad and Andy could go, but not the car.
It was decided that Joey needed to go home instead of having his sleepover tonight. We'll go back and have an adventure tomorrow, and then try another sleepover another day.
I'm thinking there were a few of mistakes on my part.
1. Not enough warning. Joey may need several days' notice, at least for the first couple of times. Of course, in an emergency, there would be no notice, but I think he held it together enough that if we really had an emergency, he would be OK. Not happy, but OK.
2. Not enough prep. We needed to think about exactly what Joey would be doing, so he could get right to it, and distract him from us leaving.
3. Too big a leap. We might need to do this in small steps. Have a "campout" at Grandma's that is a long evening instead of an all-nighter. Work up to a family slumber party, first just a late night, then all night together. Maybe have a few "afternoons with Grandma" where he spends a couple hours alone at Grandma's, but we come back for him. Then have our sleepover.
When Joey was a baby, we used to leave him with Grandma a lot. I was working at a couple of distant campuses, and so Grandma would take the baby for a while. He even spent the night with her once. But that was a long time ago- he probably doesn't even remember it. As he got older and needed more routine (plus having a second boy), we just had Grandma come over here to watch boys. It would be nice to have an option for them to stay there, and enjoy the wonders of being with Grandma. Besides, Grandma's house is surrounded by woods- boy heaven.