Watching my children struggle with friendships breaks my heart. Last night Twinkle found out she wasn’t invited to a birthday party that a few of her friends are invited to attend. The Birthday girl and Twinkle are not really close; in fact Twinkle did not invite this girl to her own party earlier this month. Kids don’t see things as reasonable and fair, though, and when Twinkle asked me if she could go I had the unenviable job of telling her she wasn’t invited. She was visibly crushed and started to cry.
My heart broke for her, but in reality this is only one of many, many events where she will not be included and that is OK. Everyone gets excluded at times, and we exclude people when we choose who to invite to parties, too.
Later in the night she and I spoke more about it. I reminded her she didn’t choose to invite this girl to her party either. I hugged her and told her about the time I helped a girl plan her end of 4th grade pool party, complete with making her invitations for her, only to not be invited. I told her that following your own spark and being true to yourself is far better than trying to be liked by everyone. I reminded her of the friends she does have, the kids who love spending time with her, and I tried to bring it home by telling her how amazing she is to everyone that matters.
Raising kids is tough, man. I kept telling Twinkle that this party is no big deal, but I remember crying for hours when I was excluded, too. I am trying to figure out what would have made me feel better when I was her age and excluded– my childhood fantasy of inviting everyone to a party then turning away the mean girls and laughing in their faces as I rode off on a unicorn that sprayed them with rainbow pee isn’t really pragmatic. The thing is, those girls weren’t mean when they didn’t invite me, I wasn’t really their friend. And this girl isn’t mean, either, for not inviting Twinkle to her party. They are just kids carving out their friendship circles at an age where everything is nebulous and changes with the wind.
For now, though, I will stroke Twinkle’s hair and tell her she is wonderful. I will hug her and tell her that I would have chosen her to be my BFFL (Best friend for life) if we were in school together, and that I am sure she will have her very own BFFL before too long. I will tell her not to equate her value as a friend with the number of party invitations she recieves. And I will continue to encourage her to be quirky, different and uniquely herself- life is so much better when you don’t lose sight of what makes you awesome.