This week, Will passed out birthday party invitations to his class at day care. It's the first time he has invited a class of friends to his birthday.  What's even better is that he planned this party himself - invited people before Mom and Dad had said okay to a party.  

The RSVPs have started to come into my email box - none of his school friends can attend.  Apparently, one of the little girls in his class is also having a party on the same day at the same time. I had no idea.  An invitation to that party was never placed in Will's cubby at school and so all his friends will be at that party and not his.  It breaks my heart each time my Inbox beeps with another response. 

Trust me - Will's party will be just fine. Friends and family will be there. This week is all about him at home so he will turn 5 with fun and presents and love just the same. I doubt he will even realize any of that happened.  

But I realize it.  And I feel it.  

It's a familiar feeling - I get it often with Grace.  When I see the other kids in her classes and activities giggling together.  When I hear about birthday parties she isn't invited to.  When she is home after school and on the weekends with no social plans outside family stuff.  

My sweet big girl and adorable boy.
I have come to realize that the level of parent socializing is directly related to the social experience kids have.  And when your mom is extremely introverted and anxious when it comes to meeting new people, you are pretty much doomed.  I'm not on 17 PTO committees and I can't be at weekday school events and we don't live in an area with a neighborhood pool and activities and tot lot to hang out at.   My own social circle is small and that protection I have placed around me in that way has leaked into my kids lives. 

My kids are smart, loving, empathetic, loyal and funny.  They are great kids.  They want to run and play and be part of the gang. I know it's part of growing up but it hurts like hell when I see them hanging outside the circle - when they are friendly with their peers but not included when it comes to social events.  I remember that feeling and it sucks. 

The Buddy bench - have you seen that article? This is what that is about.  I wish there were Buddy Benches everywhere!!! 

As I am writing here, I don't want anyone to think "oh poor kids". I want people to look around - maybe that casual friend who is standing outside the circle just needs an invite to join you.  Maybe they don't know how to join in the activity or maybe they are a little anxious about approaching the larger group. Your child may find a new friend. You may expand your network of colleagues.  Maybe you will learn something new from that person.  But for sure you will make the day of your new friend. 

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