As any parent can tell you, birthday invitations tend to come by the dozens during the school year and before you know it your weekends are overtaken between sports and birthdays. When we lived in Attleboro, I ignored many of the ones Aidan received at school and stuck with only the ones from his friends in our neighborhood or friends of ours from college. He seemed fine with that. But what I’ve realized is that I was only accepting invitations from people that I knew. I didn’t want to put myself out there to get to know anyone and pull new people into my circle.
Believe it or not, I’m actually pretty shy. For those who know me, I apologize for making you choke on whatever it was you were eating as you were reading that statement. But I am. I’m fine around the people I know but to put myself out there in front of a group of strangers is incredibly intimidating for me. So to go to a birthday party for a child that I don’t know and who’s parents I don’t know much less most of the guests, scares the bejeezus out of me. Maybe scares isn’t the right word… feels too strong. But let’s just say I try to avoid it and until we moved here I’ve done a pretty good job.
But then we moved to Barcelona and suddenly the kids were getting invitations on day one from kids at school that not only I didn’t know but neither did they. The first ones came within a week or so of arriving here and while I was flattered that Aidan was included there was NO way that I was ready to tackle that one here. So I ignored it. I didn’t even send an rsvp, rude I know. But in my ignorant mind at the time I was thinking, well yes, the kids speak English but I know not all of the parents do and how do I tell them thank you for the invite but we can’t make it, in Spanish? I just didn’t want to deal with it so I put it aside and would just ignore it.
We finally were “ready” to go to our first party in April last year, Aidan’s best friend here, Santi, was having his party at a local climbing/jumpy place (similar to Monkey Joe’s at home) up in Sarria. I was anxious about what to expect. The people were all absolutely lovely but most of them spoke Spanish and once again, I felt a bit left out even though they would make attempts to include me. I met some really nice people that I would then forward say hi to when I would go to campus (though most of the time I couldn’t remember their names unfortunately, though since then, I have gotten much better at that). And while I met some people that I could see myself being friendly with in the future, I had no real desire to go to any more parties, it just was stressing me out to go…
We’ve been to a handful more parties in the last year and a half, but significantly less than both boys have been invited to. As a matter of fact Liam didn’t attend any last year for his classmates. I blew them off thinking, eh, he’s 3 (at the time) and really, do I need to haul myself to the other side of the city to take him to a birthday party for a classmate? Shame on me!! Of course I do! I have become downright lazy about it too!
So this year when I wrote my entry about things I wanted to do differently this school year, I should have mentioned birthday parties and letting my kids actually go to them! It’s a social hump that I just need to get over and move on with our lives. School started last week and on Tuesday, Liam came home with his first invitation. Her name is Brooke. Hmmm sounds pretty American to me, so guessing her parents speak English. I know again with the English… why do I let my lack of confidence in my Spanish intimidate me?? It’s the phone thing is what it is. I’m totally fine speaking to non-English speaking parents in person – I can communicate well enough in Spanish in person… but the phone, well the phone is even more intimidating than the party! So anyways, I digress… it was much to my surprise that Brooke’s mom does not speak much English. And guess what? I was still able to get my point across and let her know that Liam would LOVE to come to Brooke’s party this weekend.
And guess what else?? I’m still alive…nothing bad happened to me and my son is going to be thrilled to get to spend some time with friends from school this weekend. So going forward, you know what we’ll be doing most weekends? You guessed it, we’ll be at someone’s birthday party…