Preschooler heartbreak

Benjamin gets to have his very first organized birthday party this year. We figured 5 is a pretty neat age to start having a party like this, and our boy is just so excited.

We chose a sports-related party in a rented church basement through a company where Benjamin has attended other parties and participated in some summer camp activities. The parties are gender neutral and involve a lot of running with balls and other equipment, under the guidance and supervision of a certified coach. And the best part is that the price includes up to 20 kids.

Pondering over the class photo and making lists up to 20 kids, Benjamin and I have contemplated whom to invite for the past few weeks now.

Recently, he’s decided to invite some girls too.

Today at school, one girl from his class stood next to him in line. From the other side of the wall where I was standing with the toddler I noticed Benjamin asking her something. And then I noticed how his face fell.

What happened next was a very intense, serious conversation between the two 4 year olds. I thought I’d stride over and see if I can shed light on some possible confusion.

Turns out that he asked her if she would like to attend his birthday party.

Turns out that she said no.

Turns out that he asked her again, and when she saw me standing there, she said no again.

I have to say that I felt conflicted. On the one hand, I felt my heart break for Benjamin’s sake who, in his inexperience, can’t imagine someone saying no to a fun party invite. And he especially selected her, and two other girls, from his class. For her to say no just like that really affected him.

On the other hand, I can appreciate that a 4 year old girl would feel inclined to say no to a boy who may or may not display rowdy behaviour in her presence at school, and particularly in the school yard.  4 year old girls today, from what I’ve seen, aren’t interested in boys and their associated play. Her quick negative reaction to his cute verbal invitation probably had hidden meaning. In her defence, who knows what she thought a boy birthday party would be like…

So I thought I would assure her. I told her that other girls from her class would be invited, and named some names.

Her answer to me was this:

“But I already had MY party”.

Well. Maybe she’s confused.

Maybe I’m confused.

Later today at pick-up, I’m going to have Benjamin give her mom the invitation and see what will ensue. Attending a birthday party isn’t an obligation, and when the time comes, I will have a chat with Ben to see what he’s thinking of this whole situation. It is highly likely that I am much  more concerned with all of this birthday activity than he is…

But maybe not.

One thing is for sure: I had not anticipated that a 4 year old’s social life is this complicated.

Edited to add:

At pick up, and after a short conversation with the girl’s mom, we shared a little moment involving the shaking of the heads/laughing at the complications of this matter. According to the mom, the girl has not had her own party, and in fact, her birthday was coming up the week AFTER Benjamin’s birthday. I asked her if it was ok for Benjamin to hand the invitation to her daughter in front of her, and she waited for him to deliver it. I also assured her, prior to the kids coming out, that there was no pressure for her daughter to have to attend…but according to what she said, they will be happy to come. So we shall see what happens on that fateful day!

At home, I asked Benjamin what the girl said in the morning when he invited her to his party. Apparently there was a situation with her not liking pizza…

Like I said before…4 year olds are complicated!


3 thoughts on “Preschooler heartbreak

  1. Adorable story. Hopefully Sonja will fare better than Holly has. Primary school girls spend all year using their impending party invites as currency.

    (Imagine a nasal snippy tone when reading). “If you don’t to , you’re not going to come to my par-teey.”

    Holly comes home feeling manipulated on a daily basis.

    The trials and tribulations of the school yard!

  2. Kinndred-Spirit – Oh no. Please don’t tell me I get to look forward to this type of pint-sized manipulation…

    Well that’s it. Sonja is going to be enrolled in a private military boarding school in some faraway land…!


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