I messed up.
I’m not even sure how to start, it was just one of those things that while it was happening I never even considered that there would be repercussions. I never thought twice about it. Does that make me a narcissist? Maybe I’m on overload? Lazy? Stupid?
I don’t know. You tell me. This is what happened:
My daughter, F just turned 7 on April 17th. F is having a birthday party in a few days. When we started planning the party, I asked her who she wanted to have and she gave me the names of 4 girls. I was confused because I know she hangs out with more girls than that. Those girls may not be her best friends, but when she tells school stories they still get honorable mentions. I asked her about those kids, and she agreed to have them—but honestly, I don‘t think she would have cared if she only had three or four friends.
I didn‘t understand that. You’re having a party, don’t you want to invite your friends? I was so confused. Why doesn’t she want to invite anyone to her party? Does she not have that many friends? Is she weird?
My one girlfriend, “Caren” and I were just talking about the weirdness of boys and girls at that age. For example, F whines that her younger, 4 year old sister has a “boyfriend,” yet all her boyfriends dump her after 2 minutes. (I guess she has a point though. Two minutes isn’t really giving the relationship much of a chance.) Anyway, Caren said with 1st grade boys, it’s different. They’re not at the same place as the girls. They’re just trying to make it through the day without crapping in their pants.
But I didn’t know that. I didn’t know there was such a behavioral spectrum in 1st grade, so, left to my own devices, I started questioning a lot of things. Lucky for me, I was scheduled to be the Mystery Reader in F’s 1st grade class the next day.
I went in like gang busters. I’m the mom that all the other moms are like “Ugh, she’s just SO MUCH, I can’t stand her,” but the kids love me. And I love them. Kids are my business. My husband is a director at a sleepaway camp in Northern Michigan and we live there all summer, so kids are not only my business, they’re our livelihood. I have to love them and they have to love me. And for the most part, both sides are pretty even.
I got to know most of the kids in F’s class during my time there and as I walked out, I realized that I was proud of F’s friend choices. The kids that she’s not that into, I wasn’t really into either. She is particular and she is discerning.
Now, JJ. JJ is my 4 year old daughter. JJ is a whole different story.
JJ’s birthday is in June, the end of June, and we are never home for her birthday because at that time of the year, we are living up at camp. I figured since F wasn’t filling up the 15 spaces allotted to us at the birthday party place, I would let J pick a few friends and that way, not only does she get a little birthday party for herself, but…one party, 2 stones!
JJ got very excited that she was allowed to piggyback on F’s party. She started shouting about 100 names as soon as I told her about it. I don’t even know if all of the people she named are REAL. Either way, there is a protocol for birthday parties:
First, we invite the friends that invited her. Right? That’s just good manners. It’s the right thing to do, and I am all about the “right thing to do“—which is WHY this story gets so messed up.
After we got through the people whose parties she’s been to (except boys, no boys) we still had a few more spaces left. I asked F again if she wanted to add anyone, but she didn’t, and besides, she was about 45 minutes past that conversation. It was old news.
For JJ, though. It was all too much. I thought she was going to burst like in Violet Beauregarde in Willy Wonka. J is friends with everyone. She, for real, loves everyone. But we only had room for a few more.
We came up with the names, I fired off the invites, and that was that.
Except JJ couldn’t quite grasp that you can’t keep adding onto the list after the invites go out. Every day she would come home with another kid she wanted to add. Ok, well, we can’t. And I would just go about my business. I never thought, never thought for one minute that I might be hurting anyone.
But I did.
Turns out that in JJ’s class there are 7 girls. Out of those 7 girls, 5 of the girls were invited to the party: 2 girls weren’t.
Even as I type it, it makes me sad. When I tell you that the last thing I ever want to do is hurt a child—that is the LAST thing. When I tell you that I never even thought TWICE about what was happening outside of my kitchen, I never did. I was all “Sweet! That’s 15 kids. Done deal. Let‘s order a cake!”
Had I known that there were 7 girls in JJ’s class, I would have called the birthday party place and said “Listen, I need to have 17 kids instead of 15,“ but I didn’t, because I didn’t know.
That’s on me. Not only did I not know that there are 7 girls in JJ’s class, but I never even thought to check. And I have no excuse. Actually, I do have an excuse, but it‘s not good.
I’m kind of on the older side to be a mom of a kid who is 4 years old, and in some situations (school situations) I can be kind of anti-social and sucky.
F did pre-school for 2 years. Then after F, JJ went and now we’re in the home stretch of her last year. This is my 4th year of pre-school and I’m in my 40’s. I’m pretty much, “Don’t let her choke on anything, see you at 2:15!”
I know a few of the moms at JJ’s school, but not many. I hardly ever go in unless I want to surprise her, or I forgot her lunch. I know a few of the teachers and I know Morris, who sits by the front door. For pick up, I am a puller-upper. I have ELLE in my car to look at while I wait, or I search through lyrics to Eminem songs. I delete everything from the school that comes to my email, unless it‘s from her teachers. I get happy when something comes in JJ’s bag that I get to recycle because it means I don’t have to put anything on the calendar. I pretty much suck.
I know it’s bad that I’m like that, but she’s having fun and learning a lot and that’s what’s important. The school and the faculty are awesome. If there is something I need to attend or attend to, someone over there is going to tell me.
But someone forgot to tell me that when you’re having a birthday party, you need to invite the whole class.
I can’t even blame them. I just want to. But I should have known better.
At the same time though, what an opportunity to sit down with your kid and say “Life lesson!! You aren’t going to be invited to everything. Sorry! Be happy with the good people in your life and forget people like that JJ Coden. She’s not so great. And her mom sucks.”
But I’m glad the moms didn’t do that because it wasn’t JJ. JJ is a good girl. She would invite everyone. It’s me. I didn’t stop to think that these are 4 year old girls—and it’s a little early for a life lesson like that. JJ, too, would have been crushed if she was left out.
I’m just so wrapped up in all the other things going on in our lives that I blew it, and I didn’t even know it. I never even considered that there might be a problem until I came home from a night out with some girlfriends and got blindsided by a very sweet message that basically went like this: Hi, how are you, Robyn? Guess what? You didn’t invite 2 kids to JJ’s party and all the other kids are talking about it in front of them. SLEEP WELL!!
I was up at 6:00 am firing off emails to get phone numbers. To some, this whole scenario might not be a big deal, but to me, it was. I wrote an apology letter and sent it to the moms. I felt really bad. I still do. I don’t think I have felt this bad about anything in a long, long time.
It was a mistake. It’s not my first and it won’t be my worst, but I’m trying, and I’m learning.
What about you? Any massive screw-ups on your end this week?
Thanks for being here!
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