On Birthdays, Friendships and Tutus

My son won’t appreciate any mention of him in a  post about tutus. But this isn’t as much about tutus as it is about acceptance and friendship, so bear with me.

Yesterday we hosted belated birthday parties for both of my kids.  I knew that the big guy wouldn’t be thrilled to have his little sister bouncing around at his party at the trampoline place (and his dad wasn’t keen about his little girl bouncing on trampolines with all the BIG boys) so I plotted a plot to host both parties on the same day.

This meant a divide and conquer tactic, with a parent each running a party. (Which meant momma preparing everything and sending Dad on his way. It worked well, except for missing the other child’s party.)  My son finally acquiesced to Mom missing the party if his sister wouldn’t be there. Ah, sibling love at it’s finest.

Truth be told, the original plan was to take a pass on the big parties this year, and keep it simple: just a few friends (as in two, tops) after drama experienced last year with one kiddos party and classmates feeling left out.  Also, I’m not a “party at home” kind of girl – I’m happy to let someone else clean up the mess that is NOT in my house, and I was happy to avoid a big expense and toys that my kids don’t really need. Somewhere along the line, in the midst of the frustration that cropped up in the past month or so, we changed our minds about letting them have more typical parties.

As life happens, however, you sometime are given an unexpected shift in perspective, too.

Yesterday, I realized it’s not about the location, or the theme or the decorations. It’s not about the gifts (and next year, maybe we’ll do what another friend did and say “no presents – your presence is the only gift required’.)

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It’s about being surrounded by people who like you – who mean something to you, and you to them – and having fun. No complications of putting on a game face for kids who push buttons. No expectations.

From this parent’s point of view, it’s about feeling liked and appreciated.

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My daughter is a hugger, so there was more than an inkling at her party when so many friends were greeted hello, and goodbye, with huge reciprocated hugs. That’s just how she is – full of life, a giver, and a sharer. She was wearing her favorite tutu – it was a disco party, so she also was blinged out with necklaces and rings, but she had also brought along ALL her spare tutus in case someone didn’t wear dance gear and felt left out. That’s just how she is.

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My son is a giver too, but at 10, there is a bit more reserve than when he was younger. He always puts his friends first – in fact, we had an argument about the cake, as he wanted chocolate but one of his friends doesn’t like chocolate, so maybe he should have a white cake. (In the end, he went with chocolate.) Making the list was tough, as he didn’t want to leave someone out, but I was firm with the 12 person  party maximum. His invite list encompassed friends from school, church and his soccer team, and after much internal debate, he did narrow his list down to 11.

I don’t think I really got it until after the parties when I had a chance to sit down and sift through all the photos that my husband and I took. It really hit home after I read the cards the kids received.

The homemade cards that showed a lot of effort put into their creation.

The cards signed “from your best friend, xxx.”

The card signed “you are my best friend, and you are awesome.”

The card signed “you are a great, nice and fun friend to have”.

And this is from the 10-year-old boys. The ones who I expected to just sign their names. The comments that were more expected (and seen) from the 8-year-old girls.

After 14 months of starting over and a tough transition, to hear each child say “thank you” at the end of the day, and express how glad, and how lucky they feel,  to have really good friends, something they might otherwise take for granted – that’s the real blessing.

It is a blessing that my kids have surrounded themselves with kind, awesome, wonderful people. The kind that accept them as they are.

Even if who they are runs around shouting “bob” randomly, does some unfortunate underage twerking, and is the only one in a tutu.

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