It's the last day of second grade for my daughter. Of course I forgot to take the obligatory last day of school picture. Maybe it's not so obligatory compared to the first day of school picture. Of course, I didn't take that one either, but that's mainly because I was working two hours away that day. Today just blame my ineptitude.
Having a child is a way to relive your childhood and all your fears that you'd rather not relive. People don't tell you that before you have children. They should. On my daughter's first day of school, I'm nervous for her. On her last day of school, I wonder if any of her friends will try to connect with playdates over the summer. "Do I belong?" the child in me wonders. As for my daughter, I don't know what she wonders. Sometimes I ask, and I get the impression she makes something up--whether she doesn't want me to know the truth or doesn't know how to articulate her thoughts is up for debate.
Her teacher said this year, "She has a kind word for everyone." I like that. And she's honest. I have the kid that will say the honest, kind thing that might be somewhat awkward. "I like the pattern on your skirt," she might say to a girl whose skirt color is blinding. But she will search for something kind and honest to say.
If you have kids, you get into the swing of kid birthday parties pretty quickly. I enjoy a stereotypical kid's birthday party immensely. There's a beautiful script to it: go to a kid-friendly venue and play for an hour or so, eat a snack and cake, may or may not watch the birthday kid open presents from the kids attending, get a goodie bag.
Well, my daughter was invited to a birthday party a few weeks ago that deviated from the script only by a tiny, but noticeable, amount. At first I was annoyed beyond belief, but now I'm rolling with it because it's just a prelude of things to come.
First of all, the party was huge. Like 50 kids kind of huge. 50 kids in abstract doesn't seem like that many, but 50 kids in a tiny room next to a pool is gargantuan. My daughter didn't know the birthday girl tremendously well - they share a common interest and have been in the same common interest weekly class for this school year. For all I know, they sit next to each other each week, but I doubt it. My daughter really wanted to go to the party, but it was a swimming party and she loves that specific pool. So after the swimming part, they ate. And ran out of food. Then the birthday girl who turned 8 opened gifts, including one from her mom (WHY?). The birthday party script says you don't open parent gifts at the party, unless it's a family party. And guess what the bday kid got? Of course, a CELL PHONE! So all the other 8 year olds can see that this 8 year old got a freaking cell phone and can beg their parents for one too. Luckily, after the first week my daughter gave up asking.
It feels like the divide between how I raise my kid and how certain other parents raise their kids is growing bigger. Now it's getting easier to "read" the parents of a kid by just meeting the kid. As the kids are getting older, they are becoming more like their parents--for better or worse.