I’m savoring the wonderful feeling of loving humanity today, savoring it because it’s so unlike me. Today was Jonah’s sixth birthday party, and I always get nervous before these events: I worry that I’ll leave something important at home, that the venue will forget we’re coming, that someone will get lost on the way (due to my faulty directions), that at least one child won’t have fun, that there’ll be a lag in activities that will cause kids to get bored and parents to roll their eyes, that parents will think I’m cheap or that I spent far too much (who is she trying to impress?)… each error or faux pas potentially resulting in a disaster that will traumatize my child and cause him to dread this time of year for the rest of his natural life.
So far (knock on wood) none of the above has happened. But it was only the sixth birthday party. I have plenty of time to majorly screw things up.
The party was held at the capoeira studio where Jonah takes lessons. Several of the other capoeira mini-students were there, as well as friends from his current school and his pre-school. It was a large group, even after three kids bagged at the last minute and even though we didn’t invite every child we would have liked to invite. This struggle gets harder every year as Jonah’s little universe expands. If his birthday were in the summer we could have a picnic and invite the entire county, but as a winter baby in New England he requires an indoor location, and this limits the number of kids one can invite. And, as if to make matters worse, Jonah’s school strongly encourages families to invite all the kids in the child’s class. I wrestled with this. Jonah’s in a combined K-1 classroom with a total of 16 kids: not huge by most standards, but add in the friends from pre-school and the capoeira students and you get an entire corps in the Munchkin Army. So we invited all the kindergartners (not difficult: there are only four, including Jonah), and the handful of first-grade kids Jonah felt especially close to. And then it happened: the school sent an e-mail to all the K-1 parents saying kids were feeling left out. Oh, Gawd, I wanted to say (but wouldn’t, as it’s a Jewish school and they’d take offense). Don’t make me feel guilty. It’s too damn easy. I mean, really—pick on someone who doesn’t worry about this sort of thing. I’m a sap and an easy target, especially when it comes to kids.
What can you do? I’m hoping I haven’t traumatized anyone else’s child, that’s what I’m doing. And in the meanwhile, we seem to have had a wonderful party, with parents praising Jonah’s capoeira teacher for his awesomeness with kids, the Carvel in Milford doing an amazing job transferring onto the cake the monkey picture I managed to draw, kids from the various aspects of Jonah’s life getting along with each other and making friends, and the book exchange going over pretty nicely. (In lieu of gifts for Jonah, we asked each child to bring a wrapped book. By way of an extremely sophisticated random method of distribution, every child got to take home a book.)
I’m loving all the kids (who seemed to have a great time); I’m loving all the parents who helped in a million different ways; I’m loving my husband, who was an awesome help; I’m loving capoiera, my son’s instructor, and his lovely wife; and I’m loving that my son had a wonderful birthday.
Thank you, everyone; thank you, universe.
Photo by Maria Bonnarigo