Monday, April 11, 2011

Socializing, 2.0

Mixing and mingling and small talk have never exactly been my thing, since I'm the introverted type who won't open her mouth without having something specific to say, and since my extra-low voice won't carry in large groups. I'm pretty sure both of my kids could out-shout me at this point. Not that I'm telling them that.

But I realize I have to step it up a little and be more social, being that we live in a new area where we don't know people, and being that the kids our kids are in school (day care) with are probably the ones they'll be going through kindergarten/first grade/etc. with, so now would be a good idea to make friends with them. Which, I've realized, at least partially depends on me making friends with the other moms. Because 21st century/changing gender norms/more involved dads doesn't mean jack when it comes to preschool world. Moms still rule.

So I've actually been pretty eager to go to all the birthday parties kiddo gets invited to, even if I'm not sure he actually plays with or likes the birthday child in question, because he gets used to hanging around the other kids and I hang around the moms (and the occasional dad).

It's been going fairly well. The other parents seem nice. Although I hate to admit to them that I think of them as "Soandso's mom" or "Suchandsuch's dad" because I still don't know their first names. I so, so hope they're doing the same thing with me.

The real test, I figured, was kiddo's own birthday. Would any of his classmates show? Would it go well? Would my goodie bags stack up to the other goodie bags (because man, do these things get elaborate)? Would the parents be happy or annoyed if we didn't serve pizza?

The answers were yes, yes, I think so -- judging by the gleeful shouts as the kids peeked inside -- and happy, I think, since a fair number of bagels got eaten and the cream cheese was entirely devoured.

It was kind of a funny mix of classmates, one or two younger siblings of classmates, friends of ours and their kids, and assorted family members. The kids were instantly entertained because it was at a kiddie play place and they were let loose to run around and climb and lob balls at each other in the ball pit. These places are the best. The first time we went to a kiddie birthday party at one of these places, we thought, an hour and a half party? What a rip! But now we are older and wiser and know that that is the perfect length of time for a small child's party, so parents can get their kids up and out before they get too whiny or bored or before the sugar crash sets in. Besides, you don't have to clean anything up. Bonus.

So the kids are running around and it occurs to me, as the de facto hostess of this shindig, I should "mingle." I don't think I ever passed Mingling 101 but I think I performed adequately. I talked to one group of moms about the upcoming parent-teacher conferences, I checked in with our friends and their kids, I talked to a few other moms. I made jokes. Really, it was like I was social or something.

Most embarrassing moment: Being five minutes late to our own party. It takes forfreakingever to get everyone out of the house on a normal day. When you're also toting a very large cake, a bag of goodie bags, bagels, Goldfish and fresh fruit? Forget it. And that was with the grandparents helping.

Most adorable moment: When kiddo's bestest buddy from school waited outside the play room for us because he refused to go anywhere until he had personally handed me kiddo's gift.

Most secretly hilarious moment: When one of kiddo's girl buddies was in the ball pit with him, and they were climbing up onto the ledge on the side and jumping into the balls. I guess he was taking too long, because she shoved him right off the side and then jumped in after him. Oh, he is going to be ruled by girls. I can see it now.

Most idiotic thing I could possibly have done: Giving them noisemakers. I have no idea what I was thinking. Because of course the girls working the party put one out at each plate, and as soon as the kids came into the food room and saw them, the room was filled with HONK HONK HONK for the rest of the party. "What did you do?" one mom mouthed to me. "I'm so sorry," I mouthed back. You'd think they would've eased up once they started eating, but you'd be wrong. (C, dryly: "I understand the geese are migrating early this year." Heh.) One little girl actually started crying, and I thought, oh great. The noise hurts her ears. Then her mom came over and explained she was upset because her noisemaker didn't work, and did I have any more? I didn't think so, but checked again and indeed yes. I gave it to the girl and all the moms around her applauded so she would stop crying.

I even apologized to a couple of the moms individually about the noisemakers, but they said, eh, don't worry about it. We'll "accidentally" lose it on the way home. Resourceful!

So now I just have to write a bunch of thank you notes for the lifetime's worth of Matchbox and Hot Wheels kiddo is now the proud owner of, and then moving on.

Well, sort of. We have another birthday party next weekend.

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