Bud and I are going to stay with friends for the weekend. They are teenage friends - 17 and 13 - whose dad will be out of town. They don't need supervision, but we're going to keep them company.
I explained the plan to Bud last night.
"We're going to take care of them?" he asked.
"No," I said. "They're old enough to stay by themselves. We're just going to spend time with them."
"They're old enough to stay by themselves?" he asked.
"Yes," I answered.
"But I'm not old enough to stay by myself?" he asked.
It wasn't a challenge, but it stopped me in my tracks. Bud is older than the younger of our friends. But, developmentally - well, no. He's not old enough to stay by himself.
This is a brand new dynamic - this comparing himself to others. It has only started emerging in the past couple of months. It's an important developmental step, I know - and yet, it makes situations like this much trickier than they've been in the past.
"Well, you like to have someone stay with you, don't you?" I asked.
"Like who?" he countered.
I started naming favorite sitters. "Like Cally," I said. "Or Ashley. Or Amelia. Or me!"
"Or you?" he asked.
"Yeah, me!" I cheered. "I love staying with you."
"Aw, thanks, Mom," he said, leaning over to hug me.
And that was that. The issue was resolved. For now. But it still feels like we've crossed an invisible threshold. I think we've officially entered the next stage of development.
I just hope I'm ready for it.