We are planning the birthday party of the year. Its gonna be huge. We have hired one of those waterside bouncy castles, and booked a venue (ok it’s the back of our church, but that kind of counts), and bought a stack of barbie meat. I have bags of chips, and lollies, and punch ingredients, and those little whistle blowy things that drive parents crazy, but kids just love. It’s gonna be awesome.
All my kids have birthdays within two months of each other. We don’t need Christmas in July in our house; we kind of already have it. And each year, we plan separate celebrations (not always big ones), and make multiple cakes, which I admit, I love to do. But this year, we are biting the bullet, and having one giant combined birthday party, with lots of kids, lots of fun, and lots of cake.
It’s gonna be awesome.
But birthday parties, in fact, any kind of party, brings with it some unpleasant business. Invitation politics. When you have a limited number of people you can invite, who makes the cut?
Now when you’re an adult, this can be tricky, but when your four turning five, or just eight, it’s actually quite simple. You just invite whoever you happen to like on the day, whoever hasn’t been mean to you in the last week, and whoever you want to impress. Your list may also include the friends of people you want to invite because that’s just kind, and the only other girl in your AusKick group, who you don’t even speak to, but you feel some feminine camaraderie with.
And if you’re Bailey you’re list is so incredibly simple. Scott, Lara, and Uncle Bruce. No idea why Uncle Bruce makes the grade, but lucky him.
The problem is, that when it comes to making birthday lists, my kids and I have a slight disagreement. For starters, I don’t think it is necessary to invite the friends of their friends. My argument is simple; if they are your friends, they don’t need other friends there. And if they are not your friends, why are you inviting them?
This reasoning seems like sound advice to my children, and they accept it graciously.
The second disagreement is a little harder.
It’s the friends, who although they have a tendency to be mean and bossy, and on Thursday said ‘they don’t want to come to my party anyway,’ who are friends nonetheless, and really should be invited. The friends who you know, you’re child will miss on the day, but they don’t have the foresight to see past last week. What do you do then?
Well in Bridie’s case I invited them anyway. There was an adamant refusal that one person should not come, but I got out of that on a technicality because the sibling was invited for one of the other kids, and I knew that if this particular girl was not invited, I would be incurring the wrath of one very upset mummy. Within five minutes of being at school, and this girl realising there were party invites, Bridie had changed her tune, and was happy for her to come, as I knew she would be.
But when it comes to Taylah’s age, it gets a bit trickier.
There was one girl she did not want to invite, and I understand why. This particular girl, although she is part of the group Taylah hangs out with, seems to make a point of making life difficult for my Tay. They have a major personality clash, and honestly it would make life so much easier if they didn’t share friends.
But they do. And this girl is always getting left off the invite list. And this morning, while Taylah was talking about how she would be handing out her birthday invites tomorrow, this girl asked if she would be getting one. Thankfully Taylah very diplomatically avoided the question.
Now I can understand her reluctance to ask her. And to be honest, the protective mum part of me doesn’t want to encourage this particular friendship.
But if everyone else is invited, and she is not, isn’t that just mean? Will that in fact make life worse?
And what’s the right thing to do here? What’s the right thing to teach? I want my children to be characterised by love and kindness, and paying back meanness with no invite does not seem to promote that. But at what point does her continual kindness in the face of obvious bitchiness just become her being walked over?
So what do I do? Do I invite the other girl? How do you handle party politics?