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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Party Politics

As I write there are three elephants dancing on my head. Actually it's three little girls but if you have ever possessed one you'll understand what I mean.

There are squeals, shrieks and occasionally tears slipping down the stairs from the bedroom where they play.

Today we have a guest; my eldest daughter's best friend. She has come over after school today because of politics: party politics.

If you have kids, and those kids have birthday parties, you have likely been involved in party politics. Who gets invited to the party, who didn't, who forgot about it and who couldn't go due to a prior parental engagement.

My daughter had a birthday party last week, unfortunately her best friend was not there. I didn't think much about her absence as I had already asked if she was coming and my daughter said she didn't know for certain but thought she would not be able to come.

The day following the party I got a message on Facebook from the friend's mother asking me if the friend had been invited to the party. (Some background info: at the end of the school year last year both girls seemed to have had different and somewhat unfriendly accounts of their relationship.) I assured the mom that her daughter had indeed been invited, the whole class had been invited, but the invitations were not in envelopes and were sent to school without names affixed. I didn't want to spend my time addressing envelopes to each child in the class. Live and learn.

So now the best friend is over for a play date and all is right with the world. This however was not the first instance of party politics that I have inadvertently been a party to.

Several years ago I affronted a family member by not inviting a young relative to a birthday party. I hadn't really thought much about the guest list. Birthday parties in the summer are rather hurried affairs as it is my busiest time of year. But due to the offense taken I felt forced to invite the child to the party. It was an oversight that he had not been invited. But now I was aggravated. I was put in a position where I had to invite him to smooth things over in the family. I got over it. He was a great help at the party and we all had a good time but I still feel a prick of discontent over the incident.

And so it goes. I haven't any other cases of party politics in my own mothering career thus far but I remember reading lately that a friend of mine was torn because her son's birthday party turned out to be on the same day as another child in his class. What kids would go to what party?

Children's birthday parties turn out to be a lesson in diplomacy as well as planning. It's one of the things they never tell you about parenthood.

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