We were at a party this evening, supposedly to celebrate the 8th birthday of a neighbor. This little girl spends most of her time with her mother in Pennsylvania, but is sometimes here with her father and stepmother, whose company we enjoy. The little girl is a little harder to handle. I've found her to be bossy and manipulative, and not a friendly playmate. She also tries to pit children against each other.
We thought about dissing the party, but decided to go. It was clear that this was a whole family affair, so we wrapped up a present and headed out.
As we walked up to the house The May Queen remembered that the last time we were all there (for a housewarming party) the other girls screamed a lot, and she didn't like it. So we were already off to a rip roaring start. When she arrived there were some other girls from the neighborhood there, ones that the birthday girl is very friendly with. They were not overly welcoming to MQ, and made no real effort to include her. It was often pointed out that the other girls would be spending the night. The May Queen came and sat in my lap quite a while. There was a bounce house in the backyard, but otherwise it was clear that the children were to occupy themselves while the adults ate, drank, and talked. Which is fine, but not exactly a birthday party for an 8 year old. At least not in my opinion. But I tend to like throwing fun parties for little kids.
The house soon filled with friends from the father's work, some of them toting children. As the mix of children grew, it was easier for The May Queen to find a way in. And she did, fitfully. She kept coming back to check in, or when she had her feelings hurt. We talked with her, and encouraged her to return. Her daddy hung out with her for a while, trying to ease her transition. He mentioned with sadness that she seems to have more of his introverted nature than my extroverted one.
Ultimately it had gone much better than we expected upon our arrival. By the end of the night The May Queen was playing fairly well, and I had to practically rip her away, nearly an hour after her bedtime. We had been there 2 1/2 hours. The presents still had not been opened, despite several promises of "in a few minutes."
I remember as a kid being taken to lots of the those kinds of parties with my parents... parties where we kids ran around and played outside, or hunkered down and watched TV in out of the way bedrooms while parents talked and laughed elsewhere. I don't have a problem at all with that kind of party. It was awkward, though, to watch The May Queen try to fit in with these girls who made no effort to include her, whose parents gave her no instructions for how to include a new friend. And I just don't get why you would throw a party for adults, and toss in your kid's birthday party as an aside.