Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Ousting

Just as the school year was winding down, my 9 year old daughter Halley was looking forward to her birthday party. She was one step closer to the coveted prize: Teenager-hood! Turning double digits was a big deal to her as it is for most little girls. She couldn’t wait to make out invitations and pick out party decorations. She had decided on a pool party this year.

We had just moved into our new home and she’d never had a pool before, so she dreamed of it being a lot of fun. Halley quickly decided she wanted her guests to come dressed up like famous people. Of course, I messed up on the invitations and instructed them to come as their favorite star. Halley quickly corrected the error.

Every year I dread handing out the birthday invitations. I learned back in 1st grade that you can’t let the kids hand them out, no matter how secretly it is done. I’ll never forget the first graders piling out of the classroom. I handed Halley the invites to slip into a few of the girls hands undetected. She did a great job, too. The problem was that one little girl took the envelope and yelled out to the other girls, “A birthday invitation! Did you get one? Did you get one?” I was mortified! One little girl I did not even know marched right up to me, told me her name, and said that I could bring her invitation tomorrow.

I’m sure we have all had tears over the birthday invitations our children did not get. Especially, when they are handed out overtly on the playground or when another child goes around spreading the bad news that your child did not get one. We really do need to teach our little ones proper birthday invitation etiquette and we parents need to follow it ourselves. So, from that moment on, I handed the invitations out to the other mommies completely out of sight of the children.

This year in fourth grade, I made no exception. Halley had made some nice friends and those were the girls we invited. I allowed her to invite 8. The girls arrived at the party and walked down the red carpet with glamour and style. Two of the girls arrived together dressed as twins. Veronica and Liza were Halley’s closest friends from the moment we arrived in town. They had lots of play dates and sleepovers.

All of Halley’s guest had arrived and the activities were in full swing. Almost immediately it became blaringly clear that Veronica and Liza were more interested in separating themselves from the other girls than they were in joining in. The other girls tried to engage them, but were turned away. I had not seen these two behave like little snobs before. I assumed the matching costumes went to their heads a bit.

Once the girls were in the swimming pool, Liza and Veronica hogged the rafts and stayed in the deep end, clearly avoiding the other girls. I finally couldn’t control myself anymore. I asked Veronica and Liza why they weren’t playing with the other girls. They just shrugged. I pointed out that the girls might get the idea that they don’t like them. Again, they both shrugged and continued to ignore the other girls for the rest of the party.

What’s that saying? “Hind sight is 20/20 vision.” School was one day away from letting out and in just two days Hal would turn 10. During a Field Day Event on the playground that day, Halley’s 2 “BFF’s” and three other girls pulled Hal aside and one by one went around in a circle telling Hal all the things they felt were wrong with her. She was told that she would change these things or they would not be her friends anymore.

I walked up on the character assassination as it was happening, but I got there too late to save my daughter. Halley was absolutely devastated and so was I. Once I calmed her down and cleaned up her face, we went into the principal’s office to report the bullying. What does all this have to do with birthday invitations? Just wait. You won’t believe what the principal did! This is getting long, so more on that later.

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