Tuesday, May 26, 2009

"We Got No Troubles, Life is the Bubbles, Under the Sea"

Buenos Tuesday, darlings. I hope everyone had a fabulous Memorial Day weekend. I spent mine painting, entertaining visiting family and hosting a birthday party for Bambina, who is turning FIVE. What?!! It feels not so long ago I was taking her to library story times--for which, at 13 months with no ability to sit still, she was too YOUNG. Now, I have a child who can read (and "read" = memorize then repeat) some short stories to me.

Her birthday party represented the largest cave of my life. Longtime readers are well aware of my antipathy for all things princess. So you will be shocked and stunned to learn that I not only hired an Ariel the Little Mermaid princess to come to the party, but that I actually enjoyed it. Besides the fact that she ran the entire party, from dancing to dress-up to limbo to cake-cutting, her presence caused the following to take place:

Ariel: "Bambina, it is so wonderful to be here at your party."
Bambina: Wide-eyed stare of rapture. Turns to me, throws her arms around me and says: "Mama! I love you!!!"

My work here is done. Listen, I know she loves me. We sing each other "I love you" songs all the time. But she NEVER gets all giddy about it. Until yesterday. It was clear that this was her dream come true. Later she said, "Mama, can I tell you something? My favorite part of today was Ariel, because you know what? She was the real deal!"

So I caved. This time. Someone at the party said, "Now you'll have to top this next year." I replied, "Sister, I most certainly do not. She's peaked early. This is as good as it's going to get for her 'til her bat mitzvah." I like to make dreams come true for my child. Don't get me wrong. But I believe deeply in not having every one of your wants met before the age of 60...especially by your parents. I also don't mistake the "I love you!" of a child getting something she really dreamed of with the "I love you" of a child lying in bed at bedtime snuggling. They both count, but the snuggle one counts more. That said, after the couple of years Bambina has endured as the daughter of moi, it was absolutely gratifying to see her being a thoroughly happy carefree child in awe of a magical princess.

But you knew the day couldn't go by without some drama, even if in my head, right? Pet peeve of the year? Parents who bring additional children to a party, especially younger ones. In this case, it wasn't a giant big deal because the mom kept a semi-close eye on the toddler. But just in general I don't enjoy it because a) it's kind of rude to just show up with another child without calling--or is that just me being old fashioned? b) My house is not childproofed for a 2 year old. It's not the fact that something of mine might break since we don't own anything super expensive and amazing, but the fact that I have detergents in an unlocked cabinet, I have open electrical outlets, I have a house designed for a 5 year old who knows not to eat the purell at the entranceway or the beads Ariel has brought for bracelet-making. And c) not relevant in this case, but if we had rented a gym or some other facility, we'd have had to pay extra for additional supervision. A friend of mine had one such gym party where two younger siblings from different families were brought along. This brought the total number of children in the facility above the legal number for one gym attendant. The parents therefore had to pay an extra $100 for the additional staff member required for safety. To the parent bringing the kid along, it's "only one more child." To the parent planning the party, it can mean significant money and hassle. In addition, I did not have a gift bag for her, hadn't factored her into the juice box count, etc.

I think I'm perhaps being grumpy about it for three reasons. First, I was raised old school. I NEVER attended one of my siblings' friend's parties. Never. I was not invited and that was that. My mom would never have dreamed of taking me. It would have been rude--and it would have caused me to miss the lesson that some things are simply not about me.

Second, my best friends have two year-olds that I didn't invite simply because this party was truly geared for older girls: nail polish, makeup, beading crafts, etc. It would have been frustrating for younger kids to be there without age-appropriate activities for them. But then I'm looking at this toddler in my house and thinking, well, hell, I should just have had my actual friends come over with their kids! Kids I actually know and enjoy!

Third, this family in particular makes me crazy. When we arrange a playdate for Bambina and their daughter, the entire family shows up. I shit you not. Mom, Dad, younger sibling and girl. So instead of having a kiddie playdate at my house, I'm now entertaining two grown-ups and a toddler for 2 hours. Who does that?!! Obviously, I have stopped being available for such "playdates" but I remain mystified that it happens. So the baby at the party was just the nail in my sanity's coffin. Although, as the BBDD said, "Hey, look on the brightside: the dad didn't tag along too this time." Which is a good thing, since he routinely insults the moms. One mom had just had a baby, whom she was pushing in a stroller. He asked her when she was having the baby. She replied, pointing to the BABY, "I just had her." He replied, "Just had? Or going to have?"

What. The. F*ck?

Any man with two brain cells knows that YOU DO NOT ASK A WOMAN WHEN SHE IS DUE UNLESS THAT WOMAN IS YOUR WIFE AND YOU ARE CERTAIN THAT THERE IS NOT CURRENTLY A NEWBORN IN YOUR HOME. Furthermore, if you do choose to be a horse's ass and ask, please do not then challenge the mother on whether she really actually has indeed given birth to your standard of evidence.

I got annoyed at him when, on our first playdate [curiously, with only younger sister but no mom], he asked me if Bambina had a Chinese accent.

Again: What. The. F*ck?

I looked confused and asked him what he meant, in that, "You SO do not want to continue down this road with me" tenor. He kept going! "I mean, she has an accent. I don't always understand her, so I'm thinking it's because she speaks with a Chinese accent." Bear in mind, this man has a thick accent himself. I told him that Bambina has articulation issues (she goes to speech therapy to help with her S and CH and TH sounds--basically any sound that requires you to blow air out while saying it, she stops the air. So S is D, CH is T. She is vastly improved and will most likely no longer need therapy by the end of this year). You'd think after that explanation he'd stop, right? Wrong! He maintained that it was maybe that, but more likely a Chinese accent. I then answered, "You're kidding, right? She has never spoken Chinese. She was 9 months old when we brought her home. How could she possibly have a Chinese accent?" He gave me that look like, "Okay, don't get all upset even though we both know your child has a Chinese accent." GAH!

After dealing with this family, I simply pray that I do not engender these types of feelings in other moms, like, "Oh God, Bambina and Susie have a playdate and THAT MOTHER! Agh! I can't take her!" I'm hoping not. If so, maybe I'll hire Ariel to come with me. Then I'll look forward to their giddy embrace and emphatic, "I love you!"


Anonymous said...

Dave Barry says you shouldn't ever comment on a woman's pregnancy unless you can see a baby emerging from her at that moment

And the great Carolyn Hax says the only possible response to an outrageous statement by someone is an uninflected "Wow." That guy could use a few Wows.

St said...

That's a whole new level of social ineptness (ineptitude?)
I would have NO idea what etiquette dictates for parties and playdates. We've always done family parties, as in, the whole family is invited. At our friend's party for her 6 yr old we all thought it was a little weird when one of her classmates was dropped off. (they don't even KNOW you?!)
Like two different worlds.

Geoff said...

And thus, the most difficult part of parenting.

Delicately explaining to your child that the man (over there) is an idiot, and not to be trusted.