Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Eat yer heart out Arnie!

My youngest has just turned six. I missed his official birthday because he was at his dad's, but am planning a party for him on Saturday afternoon.

I asked him who he wanted to invite, and he gave me a number of names including one for his big brother so he wouldn't be bored. He left out a couple of names that I expected to be included, however. As he is only six, I reminded him that there were a couple of boys from school who hadn't been included on his list.

He hadn't forgotten them at all. He had purposefully left them out despite them seeming to be big buddies from his class. I felt a sense of impending embarrassment. Not for him mark you, but for me, with their parents. He told me that one was too bossy and always tried to be the leader, and that the other was too annoying because he wanted to open presents which weren't his and was always being silly. My son takes no prisoners...

I made up some little invitations on Publisher with fighter planes zooming from left to right, which he approved immediately as planes were one of the things on his birthday list this year. I added the names, put them in envelopes and took them to school yesterday. Normally I'm in a bit of a rush because I have to get to work. I had to get to work yesterday too, but I was not keen to bump into parents of children who were expecting to be invited to the party. I thus hung back from one set, and gave the envelopes to Marion the helper to distribute.

She set about distributing them there and then in a loud voice, and I realised that another parent had appeared; one whose child might well be on the list of guests but wasn't... I decided that flight was the best policy, gave my son a kiss and pretended not to have seen the mother (who ignores me mostly anyway).

That evening, I collected my son from school and asked him about his friends. He told me that one had said he was looking forward to coming to the party whereupon my youngest disabused him instantly and said he wasn't invited. I squirmed inside at his bluntness, but was also secretly in awe at his cool decidedness. He doesn't make a fuss; he just says things how they are. It's a talent I wish I had. I'm always trying to see the other side and worry about how others are feeling. My own desires have often been drowned in the process of course.

However, little boys are very resilient, and despite straining the friendship on the day, it seems that the uninvited friend has got over the situation and they are good pals again. I'm not so sure about the parents...

By the way, we are waiting for one of his birthday presents to turn up via Chronopost - a pair of Talkie Walkies. If anyone knows of a good game for six-year olds with them outside, please let me know!


  1. Parents are definitely the worst thing when it comes to children's parties. Fortunately my son went to a very small primary school and so we/he used to invite the whole class so as to keep parental peace. And I lived on a farm, so in fact the children used to just run wild for the afternoon and be given all sorts of unsuitable food and drink that they loved and their parents hated!

    My main problem was parents who saw the party as a way of dumping their children on me for as long as possible on a Saturday so they could do something else - fine, except that after four hours of screaming boys and the odd tear, I would be dying for them to all go home so I could sit down and have a well-earned drink! The late arriving parents were invariably the ones I didn't like and they would conveniently arrive at drinks time, hoping they might also be invited to supper!

  2. I am interested to know if your children are completly bi-lingual. They obviously speak English with you, French with their father and French at school. An excellent combination, but do they speak English with a French accent?

  3. Goodness, Louise, how rude can some people be!

    Richard, both my boys were in the local creche from 3 months old when I had to back to work. They thus spoke French all day. When my eldest was two, we all went to the US for a one-year assignment which meant he came back speaking English. He speaks perfect English and perfect French (no accents).

    My youngest didn't have the advantage of total immersion at a critical point in his development and, while he understands me (I speak only in English to him), he usually responds in French.

    His English is sitting passively up there in his brain for the moment. When he does speak, his accent is almost there, but you can tell he's not a native.

    What about yours?

  4. Mine all speak French but are certainly not bi-lingual and never had the oppotunitly to be so, but many years ago at Grenoble uni I had a friend, was born in the Uk to an English mother and a Russian father, they then moved to the Argentine where he attended an Italian school. Later his mother married a German who lived in German Switzerland. With all these languages I asked him which he spoke best."well, English of course" but he was always telling me to shut my scooter instead of lock it! Being bi-lingual is great but with too many languages ont tenda not to have a mother tongue

  5. My two are both bilingual, but at the end of the day, French is their mother tongue. They are lacking in English vocalulary (I think) and there are certain English/American words that they learnt in French that they pronounce with a French accent when talking English! My daughter is accentless, but my son has a slight (gorgeous) French accent when he speaks English which should break a few hearts later!


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