Princess loves being an only child. Well, technically she's not an only child, but her siblings are all grown. Lately, she has embraced her own special private time. The Lizard King and I usually head up to bed between 8:30 and 9:30. Princess, who still sleeps in our bed, always came up with us. We read, watch TV, talk and snuggle until we fall asleep, one by one.
For the past several weeks, Princess has chosen to stay downstairs after LK and I have gone to bed. She watches TV, plays the Wii, plays on her computer, plays with her toys or does whatever inspires her at the moment.
I often come down to find toys staged throughout our living space. Having a need for order, each morning, I pick up the toys and put them away so that Princess can again create her imaginary world. Yes, I pick up her toys and I do it joyfully, imagining what fantasies she may have played out the night before.
Princess will come up to bed around midnight. She and I decided on that (approximate) time together. There are things that Princess wants to do and in order to do them, she needs to wake up mid to late morning. So, around midnight, Princess comes up, changes into her nightgown and climbs into bed.
Freckles and I had a conversation about this ritual and she pointed out something that I had not thought about. Many parents wouldn't let their kids stay up on their own, unsupervised. It never occurred to me not to do this. I trust Princess completely and know that she will make good decisions. I know that if she needed me, she would come get me. Later, LK and I talked about it as well. His words of wisdom were that you need to set boundaries, but the boundaries need to be very far and wide.
What are our boundaries? In a word, safety. Princess knows (without us instructing her) that she should stay inside the house at night and keep the doors closed and locked. I make sure that any food she needs or wants is available and accessible.
I trust Princess to make good decisions and she does. Always.