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The birthday partiers break out on their own

Submitted by on Monday, 23 November 2009 No Comment

It wasn’t quite as big a deal for Boots as it was when Big Guy got his first non-cousin party invitation a year and a half ago – but, then, Boots already has been to plenty of non-family birthday parties courtesy of Big Guy’s coat tails.

It was significant enough, though, for Boots to wave the GI Joe invitation under Big Guy’s nose as soon as his brother got home from school last Monday. “Look! I get to go to a birthday party. At the bowling alley. And you’re not invited.”

Ouch. Admittedly, I would have done the same thing Big Guy did – which was to stick his lip out far enough he was in danger of tripping over it – had I heard the same thing. So we planned for Boots to go to the party while Big Guy and I bowled on our own.

But the next day, Big Guy got a party invitation for an hour earlier the same day. Problem solved.

Actually, it was a whole new set of problems created because one mom cannot be two places at once and neither guy had ever flown solo at a birthday party.

Would I abandon the severely allergic 6-year-old in a land of candy and sweets, or would I leave the 4-year-old among friends armed with six-pound concussion-creators? Or would I force them both to be interlopers at the other’s party, depriving them of time with their own friends in the process?

I tried to think back to my own childhood but couldn’t come up with a point of reference. All the parties were for kids in our own hood, which means we all were went. That lasted until I was invited to my first slumber party at age 9 – I got to go, too, though I know some parents today who have balked about sending a child out in the wild before the kid reaches double digits.

I thought back to other parties the guys have been to.  At Big Guy’s first friend party, a dad did a drop and run. The same thing was repeated at most of the parties Big Guy was invited to last year.

The hostess at Big Guy’s party was aware of his allergies, and she knew how to use the Epi-Pen. Big Guy himself has shown scrupulous adherence to his list of banned foods, which kind of amazes me considering that I can’t think of a single other rule he hasn’t at least tried to bend.

So I decided to let Big Guy out on his own. I knocked on the door, handed over his emergency bag and cupcakes, gave him a Stink Eye warning to behave and left.

Two hours later, I was apologizing to the hostess at Boots’ party. “I’m sorry to do this to you, but I have to go pick up his brother. I’ll be back in about 20 minutes.”

“Oh, no problem!” she said. She’s an junior high math teacher – I figure she’s dealt with way worse than a pack of sugar-crazed preschoolers armed with bowling balls.

I hugged Boots goodbye and half expected him to hug me out the door. “OK, Mom. I’ll see you later,” he said, barely pausing from stuffing fries in his mouth.

And that’s when it hit me. My hesitancy wasn’t about keeping either guy safe or even making sure  they behaved themselves. It was about me wanting to stay entangled in their lives. If they could survive a birthday party without mom, what would be next? A Carnival cruise with classmates?

I picked Big Guy up and headed back to Boots’ party. Big Guy and I bowled a couple of games on the lane next to Boots, who was blissfully oblivious to our presence. Only after the goody bags were distributed and the bowling shoes returned did he deign to acknowledge us.

“It was a wonderful party, Mommy! I’m glad I got to stay,” he said.

Me, too. But don’t rush to book that cruise too soon, because I know you still sometimes forget to brush your teeth before bed and I’d hate to have to follow you to make sure you remember.

Copyright 2009 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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