G's birthday party came and went without incident, and I was not, in fact, killed by the stress of eight girls trying to cuddle with our very skittish hamsters. Perhaps you already knew this, but the human heart can survive the simultaneous escape of a pet rodent, constant shrieking, and deeply-wounded feelings over crafting supplies. I previously thought that sort of thing made your brain bleed out your nostrils.
My intentions were, of course, to celebrate G--but as explained in my previous sleepover post, third grade is the year in which my opinions on what constitutes a celebration begin to GREATLY differ from hers. Here begins the years of me trying *desperately* to spare my daughter from keg stands and sexting; which I imagine will feel mostly like banging my head against a wall for 20 years straight, until G finds herself married and pregnant and unable to imagine a world where deli meat might not cause death or intellectual inferiority in her yet-unborn child. Can any of us ever REALLY understand the great responsibility of life and our own mortality until we are parents and we come to realize that crib bumpers and pacifiers KILL or cause deformity?
G is a pretty easy-going kid, and as such, I was able to convince her that 4 individual birthday celebrations would be the way to go. And so we kicked off the birthday season on Friday night, with the girls from G's class at school--pizza dinner, freezer-paper stenciled shirts painted and adorned with puffy paint, candy-covered pretzel rod making and a Just Dance 2 competition (which I TOTALLY won, btw).
I was an advocate of inviting all of the girls in G's class because we are new to our school, and I consider it my job to know the social climate of the third grade. Going to Monkey Joe's
bounce crack house would have been easier, and certainly would have spared me the grief of SIX trips to Wal-Mart and the stress of having to mediate the sharing of the very popular blue puffy paint amongst eight girls; but it would have given me NONE of the insight into what is actually happening in the 6.5 hours that my daughter is away from me, five days a week. If you think the school day is about math and reading and art projects, then--no offense--you are WRONG. I will tell you, they are making ENORMOUS decisions about who they are at this age, and their peers have INCREDIBLE influence.
Third grade = the innocence of the Smurfs knocking on the terrifying door of Freddy Krueger's Elm Street.
I served the girls their dinner, and helped to manage the activities--but mostly I hung back and let them be who they are when they think no one is watching. You cannot really know the heart of a nine-year-old girl if you smother her in fear, which is DIFFICULT for me, because I have mostly parented like a Nazi, with a behavior-based approach. As a group, nine-year-old girls are certainly loud and squeal-y, and some of them are into attention-seeking behaviors--but as a whole, we are past fits of passion and lack of self control, in favor of BLENDING in to what's acceptable. It's figuring out exactly what she is trying to blend herself into that's the trick.
One thing is for certain, though. I give my little girl--my (almost) nine-year-old, my first-born--A LOT less credit than she really deserves. But I will save that for her official birthday post, on Tuesday.