July 9, 2014

invitations that deliver life lessons

The other day our good friends invited Reggie and Mini to join them at their rented Lake house for part of their upcoming week long vacation.  Awesome for Reggie and Mini!  Tough break for Curly.  Tetonka expressed disappointment as well.  Tetnoka stayed with his buddy last year for 5 days at their Lake house.  He has since made a few return visits of shorter duration.  As the other kids would say, "Luckyyyyy!"  It's hard to be the mom delivering exciting news to one kid while feeling the lazer-like stares shoot at you from the other, uninvited kids.  It may be a bummer, but it's life!

I cringed back when the phone would ring off the hook for Eddie on days off of school.  Eddie leaped with excitement to throw on shoes and a coat as I noted the details on the phone.  The older Laddie surfaced from the other room wondering when Eddie would return to whatever they were playing.  His disappointment was palpable.  Invitations were constantly directed towards Eddie, Laddie less frequently.  Part of it was the make up of Laddie's class.  Couldn't be helped.  I often hoped that Eddie would pass up an invite to stay and hang with Laddie.  Finish the game, start something new, build something, pretend, whatever . . . just don't leave me here to deal with Laddie's loss.  Eddie was Laddie's constant companion until a better offer came along.   When Eddie made his exit, Laddie was left in romper room.  The other siblings were too babyish to be interesting playmates.  It was heart breaking.

Ten years later, an older, wiser mother of six now sees that these situations are life lessons shrouded in temporary disappointment.  Curly was sad not to go to the Lake house for 4 days with the other kids.  It's true that she plays well with the kids who did the inviting, but she is only 6 years old.  She can age up during playtime, but she needs to wait a bit before she enjoys an overnight at a Lake house without her Mommy.  Fortunately, she is still excited because the same family invited our entire clan to another rental they are doing a few weeks later.  Awesome!  Curly's feelings aside, not many people offer to include our entire family for an overnight visit.  At a Lake house!!!

Toward the end of the school year, I offered to let Curly invite over a little girl in her class named Denise.  Knowing that Curly could play outside on the swing set while I tackled the overwhelming task of cleaning out my close, I decided inviting Denise over would be a great idea.  I liked many of my recent shopping spree purchases, but I decided to organize myself in order to see if it was necessary that I introduce these new items into my wardrobe.  It was late Sunday afternoon, so time was not on our side to get a last minute play date rolling.  Denise's mom was out of town, so I dialed her husband's cell at her instruction.  Denise has a twin brother named Ned, and no other siblings.  Ned has been over to our home before.  Curly is happy to play with anyone.  Anytime.  Many of the boys in her class invite her to their birthday parties.  She would have been happy to have Denise and Ned over.  Having seen Ned in action, I knew if he came I wouldn't be able to accomplish anything because I would have to keep a close eye on this active guy.  I was more interested in a calm, swing set, girly, quiet play date than tracking Mr. Busy Pants.

The phone call to the twins' dad took an unexpected turn when he allowed the kids to do the talking.  I never heard him utter a word and wondered if they had overtaken the home and tied him up.  Ned shouted into the phone.  Calling me 'Curly's mom', he asked if he could come too.  I informed him that he could come another day when Reggie was home.  (Great excuse, right?)  Where was the parental interference on this one?  Hello, please correct your youngster and try to encourage manners.  I could barely make out what Denise was saying over Ned's kindergarten, speech-impaired shouting.  I sensed excitement and it sounded like they were on their way over.  Then the call disconnected.  They live around the corner.  Curly raced outside to wait.

I climbed the stairs two at a time to remove the stack of clothes from my closet shelf that I wanted to sort.  A bit later I realized that Curly hadn't yelled up to me in a hysterical voice, "She's here!" as I had expected her to.  Back down to the kitchen where my cell was charging, I noticed a text from Denise's mom.  The husband didn't remember exactly where we lived, so he'd like the address.  That was the hold up?  I texted back our address and informed her that Curly was outside - couldn't miss us.  I also offered a gentle reminder that we would be eating at 6:15, so hoping he would arrive soon.  The reply included words I hadn't expected.  'He's at the zoo with the kids.  Just leaving now.  Here's his text number.'  The zoo?  What?  I had assumed that they were at home.  Deciphering their garbled, excited toddler-speak was more than should have been expected of me.  The invite was extended late in the day at around 4:20, but did these clueless parents actually think I was going to start a kindergarten play date at 5:30 on a Sunday night?  Wacky.  Why had Mr. Communication not spoken up when the kids were monopolizing the air waves?  Frustrating.

Now it was a few minutes after 5.  I spoke to Mr. Communication.  He put me on speaker phone in his car.  This would be an acceptable practice if his emotionally charged son hadn't been demanding time to speak to 'Curly's mom.'  He chuckled when he explained that he thought that I knew that they were departing the zoo.  I guess he thought the kids made that clear.  I don't understand other people's kids when they talk like they have marbles in their mouth while licking the cell phone, so my ability to understand them should not have been assumed. I pointed out that we would probably need to reschedule as our dinner would be done around 6:15.  I failed to explain that dinner would be followed by bath and bedtime.  Pretty typical for kindergarteners, I think.  Our entire 2 minute conversation was constantly being interrupted by his son, who is clearly not medicated enough.  Ned continued to somewhat verbally and somewhat spastic-ally request that he be included in the now defunct play date.  His father continued to pretend that he was still in the Africa exhibit at the zoo and would not be able to satisfactorily correct his rude son because he was so taken with the Mandrills. 

After hanging up, I stopped to explain the scenario to a confused Coach.  Then I dragged myself to the window where I shouted out to Curly, who honestly may have forgotten that her friend was coming over because she was so wrapped up in a game with her siblings.  My cancellation information sent her into tears, begging me to get Denise over there pronto.  Ugh!  I love it when other parent's screw things up.  "Honey, they were at the zoo, and they won't be home until it is almost time for dinner.  We'll try for another day."

I promised Curly 'another day' would happen soon.  Both Denise's parents work, and the school year was ending.  I had no intentions of retrieving Denise from a day care setting where I would be stuck entertaining her for the day.  Monday morning texting.  The mom first.  I started with an apology that it hadn't worked out.  She offered nothing in response, no 'sorry my husband didn't make their zoo location clear.'  Nothing.  'How about after school on Tuesday?' I suggested.  The mom pointed out that she was still out of town, so please text Mr. Communication.  She also made this request, "Let's be sure that we include Ned, so he doesn't have a major melt down."   Balls.  First of all I recognize that the 'Let's' is directed at me.  Clearly she would always be including him in a play date at her house, since he lived there.  Don't tell me how to conduct an invitation and who to include.  Your child's emotional instability is not my problem.  Please feel free to learn to curb your child's temper tantrums, don't ask me to be assist you in teaching him to deal with life.  I don't care if he is only 6.  Audacity.  Now I understand why the father hadn't corrected the kid.  These people are confused enough to think that because they birthed two children at once, my play date invitation needs to always include them both.

As it happened, Tuesday wouldn't work as it was the last day of school and he would be taking the twins out to celebrate.  'How about Monday?' (as in today), he wanted to know.  He was in a meeting up north and he would have a difficult time collecting the kids from the school's after care program anyway.  He suggested that I pick up his kids from school when I picked up my own.  He would be able to come and pick them up a little after 6:30.  Crazy.  No intention of babysitting your kids for over 3 hours.  Honestly, my Monday was quite hectic.  Wasn't sure how I was going to get where I needed to be, so it wouldn't work.  Another time.

The mom called my cell that Friday night as I cut my boys' hair on the deck.  I was squeezing in haircuts in order to meet my friend out for a glass of wine.  I ignored the call.  Obviously. 

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