We went to a birthday party for one of Mr. C’s friends recently, a little girl who would be 4. Pretty standard stuff as far as the party went, cake, ice cream, a few games, and general chaos and mayhem as the day wore on and more and more food ended up crushed into the floor and carpet and the kids went spiraling into their sugar induced hyper activity zones.
While we we there I thought about how much things have changed from when I was a kid. First of all, I don’t remember ever going to a girl’s birthday party. It wasn’t as though it was not allowed, it was just not done. I don’t think it was even thought about. For a boy’s birthday party there would be some boys invited over. For a girl’s birthday party there would be some girls invited over. That was that. Maybe it was just a conservative New England thing, but it never happened that boys and girls mingled at each other’s parties way back in the dark ages of my childhood. The result being that by age 13, the boys and girls would be almost two separate tribes who were then expected to mingle easily once the first dance of junior high came around. Of course at that first dance the two tribes would be on either side of the gym, staring at their shoes wondering what to talk about, as some wildly inappropriate song was being played over the PA system. At this party, it looked like there was just about an equal number of boys as there were girls.
There would also never be any Dads around at a kid’s birthday party. There might be the one Dad of the kid who was having the party, but he would just be there for the blowing out of the candles, handing over a slice of cake, and then back to the basement to watch the baseball game. At this party, there were just as many Dads as there were Moms.
It’s nice that things have changed since then. I know it’s probably because they’re just 3 and 4 years old, but all of the boys and girls played together too. Again, something that was just not done when I was a kid.
We are always wondering how he will do when he meets new people, how well he will ‘play with others’, will he be the odd kid or the life of the party, will he play with both girls and boys the same way ?
A few minutes after we arrived, he saw a little girl, someone who he had never met before.
He just walked right over to her and said: ‘Let’s go make a cake!’
‘Ok!’ she said. And off they went to the play kitchen to make a cake.
This was someone who he had never met before. ’What was that!’ I thought. ’Let’s go make a cake…..where did that come from?’
I wish I had known enough to try that when I was a kid. It would have saved me a lot of frustration over many years. I doubt that I would have had any idea how to make a cake anyway, even a pretend cake. Though teaching a boy how to bake was probably not on my Mom’s radar screen back then, again, just not something people did.
Sometimes I’m learning as much from him as he does from me.