It started with "You can invite TEN. Only ten." She wanted a disco karaoke party. I know. Did you just groan and laugh at the same time like I did? Weighing up the ratio of room size:her ability to befriend any child, I knew I had to set a limit early. But I also had a feeling it wouldn't be just ten in the end. Despite her initial statement - "No boys" - I also kinda guessed she'd try and sneak some boys in to the list when she realised she wanted them here. It's a recording that's made its way in to her head via some other little girl's vocabulary. Lolly has plenty of boy friends. She just sometimes forgets. And I sometimes forget to encourage her not to forget.
I admit, I took the easy way out. I was thinking of the head count only. If she said she didn't want boys, then that would instantly make it easier to keep the numbers down. "Fine," I said two weeks ago. "No boys then." Not that my floors and walls are the most spot-free in the world, I didn't relish the thought of a huge number of children descending in a party-frenzied furore on my house and furniture.
Fast forward to last weekend, after much gnashing of teeth and also realising that not only did she want to invite three boys from kinder, she simply HAD to (evidenced by the writhing on the floor holding her stomach as if she was trying to digest her own bad acting) have her cousins here as well, my little girl was not able to be convinced. I was secretly very glad that she had found her own way through it and realised she did want her boy counterparts to come and share in the fun.
Initially, I tried to advise her we could have a "family dinner" with her cousins and two of her other family-friends boys - make a night of it at a pizza place, I thought, which sort of helped smooth over my own social etiquette-bound self (I assumed all along that her beloved boys would not want to come to what was being touted by Lolly as a "disco princess fairy dance party"). And I wrote the five boys' names down and explained to her that they probably wouldn't want to come, and I talked up how fun a pizza night with her and them would be. She was confused. She wanted to invite them. It was boof-head ME who fed the stereotype.
It was sorted. For a few days. Lolly got to work drawing a poster in honour of her own birthday. It had balloons on it and pieces of pizza (spelled "pissa", which was, very much, a "pisser" to me and her Dad) with smiley faces. She was extra specially careful to ensure lines went from the pizza slices to each of the boys' names. So they wouldn't miss out.
Pardy piss-aaaaaa. Whassuuuuuup!
It broke my heart a little bit. And I gave myself a verbal shake and said "Wake up, ninny!" She was showing me in plain scribbles that her kids were segregated. For no real reason she could understand. I mean, who can be bothered listening to their mother crap on about how hard it is to keep the house clean? Right?
So the list grew. My limit blew out to fifteen. "Okay," I said, "FIFTEEN... but that is IT," I said.
And she nodded and did her wide-mouthed old-soul matron grin and presented me with 22 names. Off the top of her head. It was pitiful, the indecision over who she had to leave off if she absolutely HAD to invite another. In the end, I couldn't do it to her. She is the sort of kid, I suspect, who like me would take in any number of strays (people, animals, she doesn't discriminate).
After negotiations were finalised, I wrote a number down and slid the paper across the kitchen bench to her in silence, nodding suggestively - This is a good number, take the deal - and she nodded back at me. We settled. We're idiots like that. She doesn't even know what I was parodying. But she thinks I'm a
A post from the incomparable Mrs Woog has stopped me in my tracks this morning. It reminded me of the message I was unwittingly sending to my daughter and I was relieved that I had not encouraged her to go with her no-boys rule. Go read this: Performing Princesses.
I'm not saying I don't think boys *want* to dance or come to a fairy/princess/girly-girl party, but I am saying I sometimes get so blinkered that I just expect they'll not want to come. I almost supported my daughter's decision not to invite who she truly wanted to be here. Based on gender. When it wasn't really what she wanted anyway, it was what she had heard in "the playground."
I am lining up for a smack. Take a number. I'll bend over shortly.
Nineteen invites are going out today. Eight of them are for boys. I came home from distributing them into the parents' folders, made a cup of tea and sat down to discover that post. I read it and felt humbled and confirmed.