When I first met Diane, George (n.c.i.) and her younger child, Katie were barely two years old. George had just started attending a local preschool after having been unceremoniously dismissed from a family daycare provider who called me at 11 a.m. one morning (while George was in her care) and blurted out that she couldn’t handle him (g.c.i.) anymore. Okay, then.
I scrambled to find a more suitable spot for him and landed on the town program which, by some miracle, had a spot available despite it being a few weeks into the school year. With the anxiety of having been booted from daycare sitting squarely on my shoulders, I brought him there the next day and he settled in beautifully. Until the second or third day, that is. It was then, before I had been afforded the opportunity (or ability) to relax and find comfort in the new set up (read: I had no friends yet) that my little cherub decided that a good way to introduce himself to Katie was to bite her. Well that is just excellent. So, with my heart in my throat and my tail between my legs, I called Katie’s mother, Diane, to apologize for my child’s transgression. The call went something like this:
Me: Hi, um, you don’t know me…I’m George’s mom.
(At the time I thought I heard a groan, but I soon learned that I was hearing things)
Diane: Oh, hi! (genuine warmth)
Me: I am so sorry, but I gather that my son bit your daughter today at school.
Diane: (without skipping a beat) Oh, don’t worry…she probably deserved it.
(Lest you think anything but wonderful thoughts about Diane and her reaction, let me assure you of two things: Diane is a kick-ass mom but/and I say this with love for both of them: there is an excellent chance that Katie did, indeed deserve it. Much in the same way that George and/or Jessie would. For real.)
Despite, or perhaps because of this, we have all been friends ever since.
Yesterday, in a vain attempt to rid her house of the thousands of beads that had accumulated over the years, Diane didn’t just allow, but actually encouraged Katie to invite over a group of girls, Jessie among them, for a beading party. (See, I told you she is a kick-ass mom!) At four p.m. roughly eight girls descended upon her house and proceeded to do just about everything…except for bead. They played “Just Dance III” on the Wii, jumped on the trampoline, and put hair extensions in one another’s hair. (Oh, wait, it was only Jessie who brought and put in the hair extensions while each girl patiently awaited her turn in the chair.) Some of the moms, including me, hung out in the kitchen (yes, there was wine…is that bad? ) for some girl time of our own.
I was struck, about an hour into our visit that it felt totally natural for me to be there among this group of women, all parents of girls. We talked about clothing (and why on earth these girls are already discussing whether or not something is sexy), hair issues (please, dear G-d, let Jessie’s hair continue to grow at the rate it has been…this troll in the morning situation is getting tiresome), teachers, mean girls in the grade (not surprisingly, none of whom had parental representation among this group) and various other things that I imagine were normal “mom of girls” topics of discussion. We even talked about the incident when I was imploring Jessie to wear a long shirt over clingy pants to ensure that her penis wouldn’t show (now there’s a sentence I never expected to write) to which they universally responded that they make the same demands on their non penis bearing girls to wear shirts that are long enough over leggings so as to avoid the hoochy koochy look. Abruptly, mid conversation, I put my hand up and said, “okay, I need to know…what is the talk on the playground about Jessie?” Each of them shook their heads silently and said that there simply was no talk. And, with no hesitation or false sense of security, I believe them because I know that they are on my side.
Some of my dearest friends have boys Harrison’s age. We’ve long shared a similar set of experiences and challenges since meeting when the kids were either preschool or kindergarteners. There was an immediate connection because we all had boys the same age. What started as acquaintances of convenience have morphed into true friends, even after all these years. After I had my second baby, supposedly a boy, I was, it seems, expected to repeat history and befriend the moms of other boys in the grade in hopes that we would, as I had with Harrison’s peers, traverse the roads of raising them alongside one another. I have not established many friendships with the parents of this class of 2020 with the notable exception of the gals of yesterday’s impromptu get together (none of whom are “new” friends) all of whom have girls. That has got to mean something.
“New normal” is an obnoxious expression I have heard many times with regard to various situations. (Among the most irritating of which is being told that chronic pain in my lower back is an acceptable normal, but I digress.) I have also learned, through parties like yesterday, that sometimes the new normal really is okay. Better than okay. Not without minor (typical girl) squabbles, it was one of the easiest and most enjoyable social interactions I can recall my kid (as compared to when she was George, especially) being a part of. She was just one of the girls.
p.s. Diane is still inundated with beads…I am sure she will share!