I am frequently on the receiving end of eye rolling from my young sons. A few weeks ago I not only got eye rolling but also a new shower of ten year old ranting about how I was mean and crazy and totally unfair. We are still at the stage where kid birthday parties happen and as we were planning, and Son Number One was going through the class list, picking and choosing who should come and who should not and why they shouldn’t, I made an executive decision to invite the whole grade, all 60 of them plus some neighbors, hedging my bet that most wouldn’t come, but hoping that many would. Son One was pissed.
As the weeks before the party passed, we talked a lot about who was coming and why I wanted this party to be more about EVERYONE versus just about his BFFs. I explained a conversation I had with a couple other moms about the cliques starting at school and the beginnings of behavior that makes me squirm; talk of people being weird, pointing out differences, people bugging you. And from a former “weird” kid and sometimes deemed “different” adult, this idea of inclusiveness hits especially close to home.
I know people will challenge me that this is how kids learn to navigate the cruel world, but I am crying BS. Inclusivity should be the norm, not the exception.
25 RSVPs came in, mostly boys and most of the BFFs, a big handful of the girls, and some kids from other schools who knew no one. We had ice cream and pizza, played kick ball and ran around the park by my house. I sat on a bench as they played at the park and watched these kids group off and then shift groups, laugh out loud as they reached new levels of swinging height, run and spin and climb and I listened to the continuous ten year old banter that included many voices I hadn’t heard before and it made me feel hopeful. Hopeful that, despite some young son feedback, doing things a different way with the idea of fostering little changes is important and pretty easy, especially on a beautiful summer day with ice cream, pizza, a park and a bunch of really great kids.