I think this one finally puts me over the top. Not only do I win Mother Of The Year with this one (and seriously, no nasty comments please, it’s been a really hard day), but I’m pretty sure that we’ve been to our first and only birthday party for Mister Man’s kindergarten class.
Yep, we’re already “that family” and it’s only the fourth week of school.
Today, Mister Man had a birthday party for one of the kids in his class. The invitation didn’t specify drop off or stay, and when I RSVPed, no one said anything, so I assumed that it would be a drop off party like most of the other parties we’ve been at for the last year. Besides, if I had to stay, I could.
Then my mom decided that the wee ones had to attend her neighborhood picnic today, so she’d just drop him off after it. I should never have agreed to that.
When I showed up at 4:45 to gather him up (the party ended at 5), I saw a ton of cars parked in the street. It was obviously not a drop off party. Thank you, MOM for neither a) staying at the party nor b) calling me so I could show up.
I could hear noise in the back yard, so I headed back that way. The birthday boy was in the midst of opening all his presents. I casually scanned the group for Mister Man, trying to remember what he was wearing. I then scanned it less casually. I moved to a different vantage point and looked again. No Mister Man.
I snuck over to a mom I recognized (remember, fourth week of school here) and asked if by chance anyone was in the bathroom. Then I found a grandparent who told me there were a few children inside. Fortunately, Mister Man was one of them. He came out when I told him presents were being opened.
Then he saw the cake and asked if he could have cake because apparently he (along with a couple other children) couldn’t be bothered to sing happy birthday and have cake. Nice parents got him cake and ice cream, and I tried to sink into the floor.
Shortly thereafter, I noticed he was outside only in his socks. I asked where his shoes were, and he decided they must be in the front yard by the bouncy house. He went into the front yard to put on his shoes. I started talking to a mom.
After a period of conversation, I noticed that Mister Man hadn’t yet come back. I sighed and headed to the front yard to round him up. He wasn’t in the front yard. Neither were his shoes. My heart started to sink.
I went through the house thinking I must have missed him. I walked back around to the front where other children were now climbing on the uninflated bouncy house. One tried to climb in it, and a parent decided it was a bad idea because “you could suffocate in there.”
I stared at the lumpy bouncy house and imagined Mister Man’s suffocated body inside it. I closed my eyes trying to dispel the image. A parent turned the bouncy house on, and I waited impatiently for it to blow up so I could ensure Mister Man was not inside. He wasn’t.
I walked around to the back one more time before I started asking parents if they’d seen Mister Man. None had. He wasn’t in the bathroom. He wasn’t in the playroom. He wasn’t upstairs or in the basement.
I was in full-on panic mode. I even checked my car to see if he’d decided to head that way and was waiting for me.
No Mister Man. I can feel the panic rising in my throat as I start to think about what I do next.
At that point, I hear someone say, “Is that him there?” and I look to see him coming into the yard. Oh, thank GOD.
He is not one to wander, as he had a bad experience when he was three and knows better, so I hadn’t worried about telling a child who will be six in three weeks to walk to the front of a house to put on shoes by himself. I obviously need to rethink this, while still ensuring I don’t turn into a helicopter parent.
I finally got the story from him, at which point I alerted the host to ensure Mister Man was the only child who had been unaccounted for. While he was looking for his shoes (which were inside the house and put on after he was found), two children asked him if he wanted to walk one of them home. He agreed. Three children left the party without telling anyone and crossed at least one street by themselves.
Mister Man told me that after they dropped the girl off at her house, he came back to the party, but the other boy in the red shirt did not. He didn’t know who the other person was or where he lived, but he knew that he did not come back to the party.
After talking to the birthday mom, I discovered that both children lived in the neighborhood. The one in the red shirt was a preteen and had also most likely gone to his house. And probably should have known better than to take a strange kid with him. But this is still on Mister Man. Apparently Safety Town did not have the appropriate impact on him that it should have.
He is now very clear that he is never to leave somewhere without a) informing an adult and b) ensuring that it is appropriate for him to do so. And he also knows that he is never to cross a street in a strange neighborhood without an adult, which means the recent street crossing privileges when he’s within my sight in our neighborhood have at the moment been revoked.
I think he’s learned his lesson on this one, but it’s one I never wanted him to have to learn. On the plus side, I think this cements my Mother Of The Year Award, and I’m pretty sure we won’t be invited to any more birthday parties.
We may have to switch schools next year for this reason alone. For Mister Man’s birthday, we have one classmate able to come, three unable to make it and fifteen haven’t yet RSVPed. I’m hoping all fifteen don’t take this opportunity to avoid us.
I’ll take that in a heartbeat, however, over what could have been the alternative outcome.