The other day, Zoey had a play date with M, a friend from her class at school. It went really well, I think. The girls had fun and the moms got to hang out as well. We had a great chat and found out that we are a lot alike when it comes to parenting and lots of other stuff.
Since then, Zoey has been talking about how it will be M’s birthday soon. In fact, during the play date, M’s mom and I talked about what to do for birthday parties in the area and that it was a crazy time of year. I assumed that Zo was going to get invited to the party but really didn’t think much of it. I mean, I love my kid and think she’s awesome, so of course I think everyone else does too.
Then I saw a strange status on Facebook about, what I thought, was M having had a great time at her birthday party. Um. Wait? We weren’t there, so how did she have a birthday party? It turns out that the status had nothing to do with M’s birthday. Totally unrelated party. Yeah, it looks like I’m a crazy lady who spends too much time on Facebook. Phew.
What I want to address, other than my Facebook stalking, is how I felt when I thought that my daughter had been excluded. My heart sank. In those few moments, I felt so sad for my girl. My instincts kicked in and I wanted to protect her from any hurt that this cruel world can dish out. Then I panicked. How would I explain to her that she wasn’t invited and that she won’t always get invited to things? Then I got a little mad. I had to fight the urge to find out why my girl had been left out. Roar! Thankfully, I didn’t have to do any of those things because it was all just drama in my mind.
Have you ever had that moment? The one where you feel like you need to swoop in and rescue your child from the injustice of the world? Before I became a mom, I never knew I could feel like this. The experience became a learning moment for me. Not only do I have to learn to keep my mama bear instincts in check, but I have to be prepared to have this kind of talk with her. To tell her that things aren’t always going to be perfect and aren’t always going to go your way. I can’t protect her from getting her feelings hurt. That is just such a sad truth to have to prepare your 5-year old for. I also want her to understand how that feels so that she won’t want to exclude anyone either, so that she learns empathy for others. What a big gulp for a little kid to swallow.
As a parent, one of our jobs is to help our kids learn these things and navigate through the social minefields of being a kid. Was it this complicated when we were younger? It probably was, but now I’m looking at it through a different lens–the kind of lens that’s like a kaleidoscope. When I look through it I see a beautiful, sweet child who is kind and loving and in the next minute is a tornado of emotion and feelings herself. I want to keep her beautiful and sweet a little bit longer. But just like a kaleidoscope, kids change in a moment. Each shift brings a new stunning design, different from the one before but no less breathtaking.