It’s a random birthday and I’ll cry if I want to

Today a 7 year old’s birthday party made me cry, and it wasn’t even my 7 year old. My daughter Prima tearfully explained to me that every girl in her class, except her, had been invited to the party of a classmate (hereafter referred to as the “Birthday Girl”). Apparently, the Birthday Girl had shown Prima the large pile of invitations for all the other little girls, before she handed them out.

I am not a Helicopter Mummy. I don’t hover around my children anxiously trying to protect them from emotional and physical harm. Not me. No, I’m not a Helicopter Mummy. I’m a goddamn Stealth Bomber Mummy meets Special Prosecutor Mummy.

Firstly, I called my mummy friends from Prima’s class to collect evidence. Seven year old girls are unreliable witnesses and whilst their mummies are more credible, the hearsay rule rendered most of their testimony inadmissible.

I just wanted to know whether or not Prima was the only girl who hadn’t been invited because this would affect my response to her. I knew I needed to explain to Prima that she won’t get invited to every party in life but I was hoping that in this instance she was not being deliberately excluded.

So I proceeded with a pre-emptive strike. I called the mummy of the Birthday Girl. Yes, I called the mummy of the Birthday Girl and, feigning nonchalance, I said very politely that:

  • I was not calling to ask for an invitation;
  • I was merely inquiring whether Prima was correct in her belief that she was the only girl in her class who was not invited to the party;
  • Or could it be that the party was smaller and involved only some of the girls?

It was a leading question, I know, but the mother sounded flustered and panicky and I hadn’t even morphed into Crazy Mummy yet. 

Later, as I kissed the tears from Prima’s eyelashes, I talked her through my Key Messages Matrix for this situation (I draft KMMs for many difficult situations. They’re not necessarily very good, but they help me manage my stress and remember what I wanted to say (I suffer from temporary amnesia under pressure).  I would really welcome editorial input as I am probably going to need this KMM again).

It went as follows:

  1. Prima you are a kind and thoughtful girl. This is part of what makes you special;
  2. I know you feel hurt and sad right now and that is normal;
  3. To help yourself feel better, remember that you go to parties and play dates with other girls;
  4. Also, remember Point 1
  5. And let me take you to Kmart, so you can choose any Littlest Pet Shop toy your broken heart desires.

The whole incident reminded me that:

  • there have been many parties I was not invited to that I have forgotten. Prima will forget too;
  • at the time it hurt because being invited meant being included and we all want to be included;
  • children can be mean;
  • when mummies talk to me in the playground and ask me for coffee, I am always relieved and happy to be invited (and I am 37 not 7);
  • as Prima’s world expands, there will be more parties that she won’t get invited to, and greater disappointments, so maybe I should work on that Key Messages Matrix, or at the very least, stock up on Littlest Pet Shop toys for both of us.
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About Shankari Chandran

Six years ago we returned home from London to Sydney with our four young children and life has been chaos and comfort chocolate ever since.
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15 Responses to It’s a random birthday and I’ll cry if I want to

  1. Von says:

    Love this post. 🙂 Let’s all go out a buy littlest pet shop toys for everyone!

  2. Reema says:

    Awwwww!!!!!! My heart goes out to her……. Life is tough and our kids have to learn that…… But so early in life?

  3. Petitemum says:

    I like your modus operandi 🙂

  4. honeybee says:

    The mystery remains though – was she the only one? I really hope not! I would invite Prima to every party 🙂

  5. Pongo says:

    What did Birthday Girl’s mother say???

    • duckformationfamily says:

      It kept getting stranger – she said it was a small party but later (at a dinner for all of the mummies in the class) it emerged that all the girls were invited. Except my little one of course. The next day she offered me an invitation because apparently Prima’s had been “lost” – despite the fact that Birthday Girl had spent the last week telling Prima that she was not invited. High school has not even started yet!

  6. Mogogo says:

    brilliant post. i almost cried too, vicariously. parenthood, huh.

  7. yals says:

    i really like your posts! i think you’re KMM pretty much covers it and i admire you for tackling it head on and calling Birthday Girl’s mother. it’s just a shame the Birthday’s Girl mother allowed her to invite all the kids bar one. maybe it honestly was just a mistake on the mum’s part and Birthday Girl made it into something bigger? otherwise its just plain weird on their part and rude.

  8. Lynda says:

    It always surprises me how insensitive parents can be. We should be teaching our kids to include, be kind and think how our actions impact others.

    I am also wondering which insensitive parent it is?

    PS. With regard to your sporting blog, The highlight of the season for me was watching one of your children play sport with the biggest smile of any child, trying the hardest and having fun with friends.

  9. PK says:

    I don’t understand…
    Has this Mum been so fortunate as to never to experience that sharp and painful lump in her throat when tearily informed that no-one wanted to be her daughter’s partner today? Has she never been given the silent treatment all afternoon, only to discover at around 5:30 after being yelled at for no reason that her heartbroken daughter couldn’t find her friends all lunchtime?
    If this is the case then perhaps ignorance is an excuse? If not, then I guess her daughter just isn’t as delightfully and loveably sensitive as ours – and she deserves our sympathy?!?
    Either way, love your Littlest Petshop solution – had been thinking my approach of chocolate milkshakes and cupcakes was unsustainable…

  10. the hard truth is that Birthday Girl had every right to invite every child except yours to that party (don’t hate me, go with this). what irks me (nearly to tears) is that BG took such mean delight in showing off the invites, and that BG Mummy was i) so clueless as to leave it to BG to distribute invitations, and ii) such an idiot generally (apple, trees … ).

    how often do we see parents trying to give their kids the ‘life’ they feel they missed out on, usually revolving around ‘popularity’ and ‘outstanding achievement’? why do i suspect their was a time when BG Mummy was also excluded, and instead of turning it into “I will not be that hurting person”, turned it into “I will manipulate my child’s life so she will be the hurter”?

    my two kids are square pegs … i know they are excluded on a regular basis, often by Institutions That Should Know Better *coughs* School. i tell them popularity is a social construct, that having four good if unpopular friends beats the bjeebies out of having 20 bad even if popular ‘friends’

    *sigh* not sure they understand yet … and i’m still waiting to be invited for coffee*. xt

    *my son is in Year 6

    • duckformationfamily says:

      I agree with the maths – I would take my few good friends (they are great friends and I love you guys if you are reading this) over being popular with many but in less meaningful ways. Thank you for your comment! x

  11. descentinnovation says:

    Love the post and I have 12 yo girl in Year 7 and it is still happening – I thought (obviously naively) that they went earlier now and maybe grew out of it before they hit teen years. I do have a sniff of disdain for said parent – we all know how many kids are in our child’s class and it was a conscious choice to leave one out. Having had all class parties in the past I have ensured that my child invites everyone and have used the opportunity to discuss how it would feel to be left out.
    Reading this I am again struck by the similarities between school mum relationship dynamics and those that existed in high school….Love the KMM and have a similar process – now with a name.
    Thanks!

  12. Loved this post !
    I thought you might like one I posted recently about my reaction an infuriating ballet teacher. http://dayinthelifeofabook.com/2011/10/16/feedback-smackdown/.

  13. Lashitha says:

    I really admire you for ringing BG’s mum directly. Agree this is the best way to handle the situation – I would home that I would have the guts to do this in the same situation.

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