"Ask. Ask if you can come. I want you to come!" Natalie tugged on my arm as I carried her Valentine's Day goodies to her classroom.
We had simple Valentines to pass out. Nothing fancy. (Read: nothing from Pinterest.)
I also had cookies. Store bought, because I didn't want to accidentally poison someone.
Natalie wanted me to ask if I could come to the Valentine's Day party. Being in a room with children sounded about as fun as having the flu. Don't get me wrong, I like kids. I do. But I never know what to say to other people's children. My humor is warped. My kids semi understand it at this point in their lives. Other kids do not.
Still, in the back of my mind I always think, "Soon she won't want anything to do with you. Savor these moments." Weirdly, that voice sounds like Dr. Phil. I watch a lot of Dr. Phil.
"I'll ask," I promised.
We dropped off everything in the classroom, and I asked the teacher if I could return for the party. She said yes.
"Yay," Natalie said beside me. She beamed. "Soon she won't beam at you. She'll roll her eyes and make snide remarks under her breath about you." Yes. I'm aware. Thanks, Dr. Phil.
So I came back. I was a tad early and the kids were still at recess, so I waited outside the door. A child walked past me, stopped, and went, "I don't know you." I answered, "I don't know you either." He gave me a blank stare. I gave him a blank stare. Then he continued on down the hall. Where he came from, I don't know. It occurred to me later that I should have said I was Natalie's Mom and that I was waiting for the party to begin. But as I said before, I do not know what to say to other children.
I heard the rumblings of excited voices and knew Natalie's class was returning from outside. I spotted her in line, and her face lit up. Like really lit up. The same way my face lights up when one of my book reserves is ready in the library. She rushed over and hugged me.
We walked in the classroom, and I always feel out of place showing up, because I'm socially awkward and can't just dive in and begin to help. I watch other mothers just dive into helping and they do it so smoothly that I'm envious. I nervously stand around, hoping the teacher will tell me what she needs.
In this instance, I was the only parent there because the teacher did not ask for volunteers. But she seemed grateful that I was there, because the party would have treats and root beer floats. She asked if I could make the root beer floats.
I moved to the table where the food was set up. I was glad to see cupcakes and cookies and chips. I could never send my children to a school that banned sweets. Sweets are an important part of life.
I served the root beer floats. I chatted with the teacher. We talked about the boy who likes Natalie. Natalie has admitted to me that she likes him too. Really, this means they giggle at one another and chase each other at recess. Kids came up and asked for more ice cream. At one point I gave one girl three scoops, and she told everyone, "Natalie's Mom gave me THREE scoops!" Then the other kids rushed over, cups raised, wanting three scoops. The teacher said, "How about we just stick with two?" Oops.
Second grade is fun. I overheard people saying this was the BEST VALENTINE'S DAY PARTY EVER! Someone else talked about how her parents were going on a date and that she wasn't invited. "It's sort of rude," the little girl said seriously. A boy said he was going to eat all the candy he was given for dinner.
Yes, this sort of thing makes me uncomfortable. But I do it for my daughter.
Because right now, she likes me.