Party’s Over, No One Was Hurt (well, almost)
Let me tell you first of all that the Tony Attwood seminar was out of this world! I have acquired so much useful information and met interesting people. Dr. Attwood is one of the best speakers I’ve seen so far (and I have seen a few really good ones). Was I taking notes? – you betcha, as I have promised I12’s guidance counselor I would make her a copy. I will put together the most interesting bits and pieces for one of my Digests. Bottom line, if he will be speaking in your town, go see him.
Yesterday, we had a birthday party for K10. For the past three years, I’ve been doing these parties in the same format:
1. Kids come over (some years, we had fourteen kids. Yesterday we only had eight).
2. I entertain the kids, feed them pizza, cake, etc.
3. Kids whose parents don’t trust me with their lives, leave. Kids whose parents do trust me with their lives, as well as our friends’ kids, stay. More of our friends come over and help me set the big table in the dining room.
4. We celebrate with our friends, while the kids are in the basement tearing the place apart. (Literally. Last year, they managed to rip a 100-pound punching bag out of the ceiling. This year, they just scared the chinchilla out of his little mind. No other damage was done).
Starting next year, I will be dropping parts 1 and 2, and will call it the Fall Party rather than K10’s birthday party. Because I just don’t see a reason why 11-year-olds should have an all-out, all-class-invited birthday party… do you?
K10 told me before the party, “You take care of the food, and I’ll take care of the entertainment”. Sounds good, right? You would assume that ten-year-olds would be capable of behaving well and having organized fun, correct? Especially if last year, there were fourteen nine-year-olds in the house and they were on their best behavior, and this year, there’s only eight of them and they are a year older, and therefore, more mature? Right?
Wrong. Half the kids were out of control, and the other half were bored out of their minds. As it inevitably happens at parties and play dates, by the time they all settled down and started playing well with each other, it was time to go. One of the kids was picked up by his aunt. It was his first time at our house. Five minutes later, as I’m chatting with my friends and chopping salads for our party, the aunt calls me on the phone and she’s irate.
“My nephew tells me that at your party, he got beaten up by somebody named Jimmy. He is NOT happy, his mother is NOT happy, and I am NOT happy. What happened?”
“Um, I dunno… they were playing?”
I am super confused, and here is why.
1. Jimmy is a kid brother of one of K10’s (and the victim's) friends.
2. Jimmy is seven.
3. Jimmy is extremely small and scrawny, probably half the size of the poor victim.
4. Jimmy is super cute.
5. Although I did see Jimmy running after the victim throwing little punches in the victim’s knee area, I didn’t sense that the victim was suffering.
Why didn’t I tell the aunt who Jimmy was? It’s the peculiar mental condition that I have. Each time I see an adult interfering in the kids’ business, I start seeing red and I get this brain freeze. Of course, now that I’ve cooled down, I understand that the aunt didn’t have enough information to go on. She probably still thinks Jimmy is a two-hundred-pound bully that tackled her little defenseless nephew.
Meantime, the aunt goes on.
“I need you to reprimand these kids.”
“Okay, I will talk to my son, but I’m not sure what I can do to other people’s kids, seeing as I’m not their mother.”
“Oh no, your son didn’t do anything!” (Pause as I heave a sigh of relief.)
“Um, I’m confused. How can I do anything to somebody else’s children?”
“If you can please just talk to them?”
“Okay, I will. Thanksbye.”
I hang up the phone, and after saying a few choice words normally used by ten-year-old boys rather than their mothers, walk over to the kids and motion to Jimmy’s older brother Dave to come over.
“Dave, this is serious. I just got a call from Ned’s aunt and she was very upset. Ned told her that he got beaten up by Jimmy.” (Dave snickers; I try not to.) “She wants me to reprimand you guys for letting this happen.”
“What’s reprimand?” wonders Dave.
“I don’t know, but I’m not gonna do it. I have one thing to say, though… don’t tease Ned like that anymore. Some people are just more sensitive than the others. He didn’t like it; don’t do it.”
All the while in the back of my mind, I was thanking Ned’s aunt for giving me something to blog about. That's how sick I am.
That said, I can totally envision a situation where I would step in and interfere on my kids’ behalf. This kind of situation would probably involve illegal behavior or serious bodily damage.
What about you? Where do you draw the line? When do you think you as a parent should step in, and when do you leave the kids to fend for themselves? Go ahead and share.
By the way, those of you who have been reading this blog long enough probably wouldn’t be surprised to hear that, the day before his birthday party, K10 ate something that gave him massive diarrhea right on the day of the party, when it was too late to cancel. He stayed on a water-and-toast diet all morning, and when the guests came, he just put on a happy face and entertained, sneaking into the bathroom every fifteen minutes. Oh well. Like I said, why would I be surprised? After all, the same thing happened to his brother on his birthday!