When we told Ava she was going to a birthday tea-party today, she couldn't stop giggling. Not so much because it was a birthday or a tea-party, but because she hadn't seen her friend in a long time. She patiently waited while I wrapped the present and then asked if she could carry it. We held hands across the street and she told me to look both ways. Walking on the curb, she handed me the present and then knocked on the door. Unfortunately, the birthday girl glanced over at Ava and then trotted off without a welcome- which was not surprising since she hadn't seen Ava in over 6 months.
Uncertain of what to do next, I could sense how this was a good learning opportunity - for the both of us. I personally am considerably shy in new settings, and never gave it much thought until I watched Ava and felt how she was feeling standing in the doorway.
Like most parents, we want our children to make and take the best out of experiences - and have fun. What consistently amazes me about parenting is how it has this surprising ability to empower us in any situation where our children are concerned. I wanted her to enjoy herself- so I braced myself and pulled myself out my comfortable shell to show her that we can make this hour be what we want it to be.
Even though she liked her own dress better [I did too], I encouraged her to change into the dress the hostess picked for her from the rack of rentals. We colored and tried on a few different hats... sipped punch out of tiny glass teacups, ate purple m&m's and sprayed more perfume than our noses could handle...
Our hostess stayed calm while trying to instruct the girls on how to be in a fashion show. Not an easy task when considering these 10 little girls, only few who know each other, were dressed-up to look like contestants, and then expected to partake in an activity that overlapped their nap hour. I couldn't believe it when Ava, with a smile on her face, skipped along the runway all by herself, and then returned to sip more of her tea punch.
Awarded with ice-cream, cup cakes and strawberry milk, the toddler guests indulged quietly, until two had meltdowns. Finally it was over, and it wasn't until they got re-dressed into their own clothes, were they able to be themselves.
The birthday girl, holding hands with her best friend, started playing ring around the rosey - alone together. Ava stood close and threw her hand in their circle, hoping to catch one of their hands. She did. Then looked at me as if relaying her thoughts directly into my heart, I felt a "thank you for this Mom. This is soo much fun."