Friday, January 21, 2011

birthday etiquette

It’s no secret that I would do just about anything to protect my girls. As in, I will shank you with my giant car key if it means keeping them from being hurt. And so, when I picked up Lucy from school today, I had to turn and leave as quickly as I got there because I thought I might have to do just that. 

Those of you with children over the age of three know that part of your job as a parent is to start stomaching all of those, “well, now you can’t come to my birthday party” comments. Your own child might utter those despicable words, or you might overhear them, say, at the table in your preschool class. Oh, wait. That’s just me. My point is that somewhere around three and a half, kids start realizing that the birthday party is perhaps the BEST means of leverage and social status beating out even the “playdate”. Please. Please do not get me started on that word. Seriously. Who made that up? Moving on.

Here is the catch. PARENTS: you have a little control over the hurt feelings. While you can’t control what comes out of your child’s mouth (don’t I know it?) you can control HOW the birthday party arrangements are made and what comes out of your own mouth so that I don’t have to hear, “oh! see you at the party tomorrow!” or “you’re going to so-and-so’s birthday party, right?” Right. In. Front. Of. My. Daughter. And this was not out of the child’s mouth – but the mother’s. For real.

The look on Lucy’s face was enough for me to know that number 1, she understood completely and without further explanation that she hadn’t been invited. And number 2, that I needed to get the hell out of that classroom before I said something. What the hell? I’m certainly not suggesting that my child should be invited to everyone’s party. Absolutely not, I get that. What I am saying is that if you know my child isn’t invited to your kid’s party? Shut the hell up about it when you’re right in front of her. She’s smarter than your kid and she’s onto you.

I think we as parents need to dig back and remember the times we were left out of something. Picked last (or not at all) for kickball. Not making the play. Not invited to THE party. It might have been a while, but I’m guessing we can all still remember how that felt. I know I can. We could do ourselves – and our children – a favor if we did just that.

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