I confess: I feel insecure lately about this whole parenting thing.
Picture: My two boys on their first day of school + the hub's butt.
Now I've entered a new stage: The Socializing Stage.
It started like this: On our way to the second day of school we approached the playground together. I was busy checking out the other children: assessing potential bullies, listening for appropriate language, and recognizing all of my own clothes from the 80s. Then suddenly, Myles (the Grade-Three-er) side glanced me and quietly said, "Okay. Bye." And he started walking away. Just like that.
And yes, I did it. I did. And I even hated myself while I did it.
I called after him, "Can I have a kiss?"
He turned around like I asked him if he wanted to eat squirrel vomit for dinner. And he lifted his disgusted face to my pouty mouth so I could kiss him.
There was no embrace. He walked away and began scouting the grassy battle grounds for potential victims of his friendship. As if I didn't exist at all.
In a matter of seconds you can go from meeting your child's every need and whimsy to being nominal, expendable, and at best, somewhat useful. As in, dinner, please?
And you're just supposed to take it?
Socializing has also required me to become hostess to new friends. Their friends. Not mine. I don't have any yet. The most challenging part of this hostessing gig: I can't yell at other people's children to put their shoes where they belong, or not to touch my newly painted walls with their grimy hands, or to stop being bratty. And I can't walk around without a bra, pee with the door open, or pour my drinks at 3 p.m. It cramps my style.
I had an epiphany: There's a certain joy a child has when his or her friends are present. It comes from a tacit understanding that Mom's yell button is mute while humans who don't share her last name are present.
I remember it. Those days when I knew my teachers had likely called home and my best defense (or at least my best stall) was to have someone show up. Better yet: Ask a 'rent for permission right in front of a friend and their defenses got even softer.
And then there's the dreaded "I don't have any friends" chapter to this saga. My five-year old is not as gregarious as his older brother. He still hugs and smooches me in public, willingly. But now his jealousy over his older brother's friends has turned into a full-fledged, vindictive slaughter. His indignation that his summertime playmate and soul companion chooses to abandon him and even shut his bedroom door in his face delivers enough fuel to light up Colorado. And I'm stuck reeling with ideas for how to entertain a disheartened, rejected five-year old. I thought I had two children to avoid having to actually play with them.