Wooooooooot – holla at you – it’s your birthday! So, last month I had the dilemma planning how we would celebrate your birthday. Our original plan was a trip to Southern California to make our yearly visit to Disneyland but when plans changed, I was suddenly faced with a birthday rapidly approaching and no backup plan. I’m sure you would have been content with dinner and a couple presents but unfortunately, simple is not in my DNA. To simplify things, I did combine yours and Miles’ birthday and I ordered pizza. To the dismay of your Father, that was the only thing that was simple. I made your birthday invitations with a photo booth app that I’m seriously psycho over. I made lots and lots of decorations, made cookies and cupcakes, and ordered a bounce house. Miles was terrified to go in to it so you and Merrik were pretty much the only ones who bounced in it – well, except for the occasional adult who felt daring. It’s true, I may have spent the last hour of the rental claiming it all to myself. Money well spent.
You asked if some of your friends from preschool could come to your party and that’s where I had trouble deciding if a party was even going to happen. There was one particular child I absolutely whole-heartedly did not want to invite. I mentioned Adriana before and I will mention her again. From the day this girl started at your preschool, you became very close to her. All I ever heard was Adriana this and Adriana that. I never had a good feeling about this kid since the first interaction I ever had with her was when she threw her arms around you and said, “YOU CAN’T TAKE HER – SHE’S MY BABY!” I remember being quite speechless at such the mature language that was being spoken to me by a three year old. I wasn’t quite sure how to handle myself at that moment being that no teacher was near by to hear this unusual diaglogue taking place. I remember kind of nervously chuckling like, “uh, ok . . Liv, say goodbye to your friend.” That little looney did it again with the dirtiest little scowl on her face. I finally was able to coax you away and I knew I should have said something to a teacher at that moment but instead, I just decided to walk away. Thankfully, future interactions with her were not so daytime television dramatic. That was true until a few weeks ago.
I showed up at your preschool to pick you up and found you and Adriana playing in the sand. I called to you that it was time to go and Adriana glared at me and yelled, “SHE’S NOT GOING HOME – SHE DOESN’T LIKE YOU ANYMORE. SHE’S NOT YOUR FRIEND – GO AWAY!” Um, excuse me? Suddenly I felt the blood begin to boil under my skin and my hand started to shake with fury – I was ready to punch this three year old out. I tried desperately to recall the stress reducing moves I learned just after Miles was born – you know, the dark era where you resembled a manic gremlin. There was no pillow nearby to strike nor did I feel jumping jacks would suppress the anger that was begging to be released. What made the situation worse was that you stayed put and I actually detected a smile on your face when Adriana was talking back to me. I’m not sure how but the next thing I knew was I was in the sand pit dragging you out as discreetly as I could and I remember saying the exact phrase I told myself I would never say, “You are never to play with that girl ever again!” Stupidest thing I could have said because one, the flood of tears and screaming that ensued, grabbed the attention of every person on the playground to you and two, I knew by saying that, I only contributed to your obsession because any adult knows, if you tell a child not to do something, that’s all they want to do. I am trying so desperately to get you off the playground and in to the car and your tantrum is getting louder and fiercer. Miles decides to run in circles around us so I attempt to corral him with one leg as I hold the behemoth of crafts in one hand while I hold you steady with my other arm. Next thing I know, Adriana is standing in front of me with her arms crossed and she asks me, “why is Olivia crying?” In the most calm tone I can muster, I say “because Olivia is tired.” Adriana looks at me matter-of-factly and says, “no she’s not.” You cried the entire way home and I envisioned the many ways I would have liked to have dealt with little miss awful. None of the scenarios ended in Adriana’s favor.
I did what should have been done months ago, I had a discussion with your teachers. They told me they were in fact working hard with her as she talks to them the same way. The disturbing point came when one of your teachers told me that you are kind of obsessed with Adriana – you have no interest in playing with the other kids and you pretty much follow her around and do what she tells you to do. If you ask her to play with you and she says no, you just stand there. No parent wants to hear that their child acts like this. I know you don’t understand what it means to be manipulated or bullied but it’s clear that Adriana only likes to play with you because you are innocent and gullible. I guess I have a long road ahead of me if these are the type of relationships you will be drawn to you. Fortunately, the teacher was able to witness Adriana’s brash behavior towards me when the teacher hollered to you that I was here and it was time to go and Adriana grabbed two fistfuls of sand and threw them down while screaming, “NOOOOOOOO!”
Every day we would ask you if you made any new friends and you always answered ‘yes but Adriana let me play with her mermaid or yes I played with Clare but Adriana and I built a sand castle.’ I feared that this school year may be a difficult one until I discovered the devil herself, was no longer on the school roster. You tell me she’s not at school because she’s sick but we’re going on almost two weeks now and being that her name isn’t on the list, I’m about to do the happy jig because I think Adriana was sent packing. Thank goodness I didn’t decide to invite her to your birthday party because I think I may have had a primetime newsworthy brawl with her and her Mother and it would have been all over YouTube and it would have been really embarrassing for her because I most definitely would have kicked her ass.
So, on a lighter note, happy fourth birthday sweetheart. We’re only four years in and I’m already questioning your choice in friends. It’s thrilling isn’t it? I’m happy that you’re still at the age where you get excited when I make you pink pancakes for your birthday breakfast and going to the movies is the highlight of your month. I think it should also be noted that I read a book to your preschool class to celebrate your birthday and it doesn’t seem like a huge deal but reading to a group of three year olds is incredibly unnerving. Three year olds are ruthless say-what-they-feel savages and they have no problem calling you out if you suck. What totally calmed my nerves was seeing how proud you were that I was in your class, reading to your peers. You even mouthed the words along with me. We took you to another awesome A’s game and I apologize that you cried during most of the game because you thought it was too loud but think of it as your skin-thickening bootcamp. You are too fragile my dear and every bad apple child is picking you right out of the crowd. You are so much better than that and I will do my best to instill this in you – that’s a promise. Happy Birthday.