My kid is the most popular kid ever. Dropping her off at daycare or school is like dropping her off at a kiddie reenactment of when a regular walks into “Cheers” (“Norm!”).
So of course as the other kids start to have birthday parties she’s getting invited to a lot of parties.
The thing about 6 year old birthdays is that it’s rarely clear whether parents are expected to stay, and it’s always ok if you stick around even when everyone else leaves their kids. I’m sure this changes a bit as the kids get older, but at 6 it’s a lot of parents first big party with kids invited from school and the first time parents are meeting each other so a little concern is ok.
But I’m stuck at the beginning of these things trying to decide what kind of party this is, and how long until the awkward moment where I admit I’m going to leave.
Some parents seem totally ok with just dropping off their kids and high tailing it outta there. I have to admit I admire that even as I’m confused by it. Most of those parents are people who mist likely know who the party parents are. They’re the people who set up play dates and have other people’s children over to their houses.
I have at least two families who are up for play dates, but I’m supposed to call them. This is a problem.
You see, ever since I was a kid I’ve had big problems with setting up play dates with other people. Well with just calling people.
Some of it was that my dad had this idea that going to play with my friends was as simple as calling to make sure they were home and then jumping on my bike. There were two problems with that. All of the people I could call friends lived across town. The way that Colorado school districts were set up was different than the way they were in Pennsylvania where he grew up, and of course there was 35 years difference as well. So since none of my friends took the same bus as I did, and my school was 5 miles from my house, that means my friends could have been 10 miles or more from my house. I wasn’t allowed to go out of my neighborhood.
The other problem was that I didn’t really have many friends.
My dad didn’t understand why I wasn’t going out to play with my friends every day. I told him they didn’t live around our house so I needed a ride, and I was then expected to go find friends in my neighborhood. But there really weren’t gangs of kids riding around the neighborhood. I couldn’t just find a bunch of kids and get new friends nearby. I would have had to go door -to-door looking for the kids that I was assured were in the neighborhood. Since I didn’t show up with new friends from the neighborhood my dad seemed to get the idea that I was too lazy to go make friends.
The truth is that I did try everything I was asked to do. I called the people who lived across town in hopes that their parents would take pity on me and pick me up. I rode around the neighborhood over and over looking for the kids I was promised lived around me. And I even tried basically knocking on doors I thought I’d seen kids go into.
And all of this was despite the fact that I am not just “shy”.
When I was a kid the idea of social anxiety disorder didn’t exist yet, and even if it did my parents are of the opinion that labeling shyness as a disorder is just coddling hippy shit. I haven’t been diagnosed with anything, and I’ve learned to fake and push my way through so I don’t see a lot of benefit to diagnosis of something I can mostly deal with. But calling someone on the phone to set up a play date is terrifying. Along with calling to set up doctor’s appointments, or car maintenance, and occasionally to say my kid is staying home from school.
So back to that party scenario. My kid’s most recent party was one where the drop off to stick around ratio was about half and half. I thought about ambling over to one of the other parents and striking up a conversation, but I noticed that the parents weren’t talking to each other. They were tensly staring at the bounce house where the children were playing. So I decided to leave. It looked like most of them felt a lot like I do.