Considering she’s the life of the party, Sophie doesn’t get invited to many.
Maybe it’s just that people just don’t throw their kids birthday parties anymore. To me, that’s inconceivable (see: name of this blog).
In any case, it’s January, and Sophie’s been invited to just one birthday party this school year. I almost missed the invitation, it came home while I was in Portland and wound up in the middle of a pile. But I saw it, the white envelope with Sophie’s name on it in an adult’s cursive, and got excited.
I’m a nerd. I actually enjoy little kid birthday parties. Especially when my kid’s invited. And particularly when it’s Sophie. In pre-school, we had an awkward situation where Sophie was held back a year (or two, I lost track at the end) and that tight-knit group that had formed in her initial class moved onward and upward and left us in the dust, no longer inviting us to birthday parties and looking increasingly awkward when it came time to make conversation in the hall. I never really got to know the next group(s) of parents, and by that time Sophie was going to the public pre-school half-time and she never, ever got an invite out of those people (I think those were people who really didn’t throw parties for their kids).
Anyhow, wah, poor me.
I was excited. I thought hard about what to buy the Birthday Kid (I always bring the wrong present, particularly when it’s for a boy) and Sophie and I discussed attire.
A dress, she said. OK, that was fine. We found a cute dress, tights, sweater and shoes, all matching, but not too matchy matchy. By then we were out of time. (The search for non-girl wrapping paper took a while.)
“How do you want your hair?” I asked, knowing there would be a fight. There always is.
“I DO IT!”
No, I explained, Mommy needs to do it, asking for a preference: up or down. Down. I brushed it as much as she’d let me, then she requested a headband. Perfect! I had exactly the right one — sparkly hot pink. Too bad it wasn’t the right one in Sophie’s mind. She wanted a stretchy headband and she wanted to put it on herself.
And that’s how my kid left the house for her very first kindergarten birthday party looking like Andrei Agassi, or maybe more like a character in a Wes Anderson movie.
“Oh Sophie,” I said. “Are you sure?”
She was sure. I struggled the whole way to the park: Do I rip the headband off the poor child’s head to save her embarrassment when the kids refuse to come near such a geek? I didn’t. And the gods smiled on both our heads, or maybe Sophie simply wised up. More likely, the headband was bugging her. By the time we arrived, she’d taken the thing off herself.
A little disheveled, but looking darn cute, she approached the party. A bouncy castle was in action.
“There’s Sophie,” I heard a kid call, not knowing whether that was good or bad. Followed by, “Sophie! Sophie! Sophie!”
The kids shrieked like she was a rock star. It was good.
“Yeah,” Ray said when I told him later, “But did they really play with her?”
They did. They really did. I saw it myself. They bounced, then played tag, then played hide and seek and several of the girls sat together to eat hot dogs. There was girl drama when Zoe didn’t want to play with Bella (I get the names confused, so assume they’re wrong) but no drama with Sophie. Yes, she gave more hugs than the average kindergartener, and I’m not sure the intent conversations I saw her having with several kids were quite as they appeared from afar, but they really played with her.
“Sarah is so good with Sophie,” I said to Sarah’s mother. “Thank you.”
“Oh, Sarah talks about Sophie constantly!” Sarah’s mother replied, making it obvious there was no need for thanks.
Turns out, this was the first time all year Ms. X had even handed out birthday party invitations — or so she said when she arrived at the party to her own rock star welcome. I’ll choose to believe her. And to savor the day. Aiden even seemed to love the Star Wars Legos.