There’s nothing my daughter loves more than to get an invitation to a birthday party.
“Mommy, my friend’s having a birthday party! Can I go? Please?”
Of course I have to say yes. What kind of meanie says no? But I wish I could. Say no, that is.
Why? Well, I’m no good at parties. Never have been. Never will be.
When I am the one who’s invited, I can usually find a person (or four) that I know, and attach myself to them for the duration. But at a kid’s party? All bets are off.
Usually, I don’t even know what the kid looks like. I don’t know what her mom looks like. Or even what her name is. Nope, I’m stuck making awkward small talk with complete strangers.
And as bad as I am at parties? I’ve even worse with strangers. Especially multiple strangers. And when faced with multiple strangers on a Saturday afternoon, after an exhausting work week, and without a drop of alcohol in sight? God help us all.
I tend to close up. Fold up. And shut down.
But that’s not even the worst of it.
I spend the whole time worrying about my daughter.
I don’t hover. That doesn’t do her any good. But I do worry. Endlessly.
As an introvert (formerly known as the Shy Kid), I want her to have an easier time with social situations. I want her to be at the center of the action. I want her to make friends effortlessly, socialize naturally, and never know a hint of shyness.
So when I see her hovering on the edges (or worse, afraid to engage at all), it breaks my heart a little. Okay, a lot.
I want to rush right in there and fix it for her. Push her into the middle. Make sure she has fun.
But I don’t. She’s got to learn to do things on her own.
Recently, we were at a party, and she was hovering on the edges, uncomfortable. But then one of her friends – a friend who’s a year older and who has recently gone off to kindergarten – grabbed her hand and said, “come on, Tori!”
And she pulled her into the fun. Then the whole group started looking out for her. The bigger girls even helped her down a particularly scary slide when she balked.
She had a grand time.
It did my heart good to see it.
She’s not me.
And just because I remember childhood as being a little more cruel, filled with kids who were a little less big hearted, doesn’t mean she will experience things the same way.
It pays to remember that.
Who knows? She might just grow up to be the life of the party.
At the very least, I hope she doesn’t learn to be afraid of them. That just sucks.