Well, it finally happened. On some level I've been holding my breath waiting for it to happen. On another level it caught me totally off guard.
I'd run into some moms that I've gotten friendly with. (We occasionally get together for a mom's night out without kids - that sort of thing.) I was standing between Jack's Mom and Matt's Mom, and heard Matt's Mom say "Matt is really excited about Jack's party. Any suggestion for presents?" The question barely registered with me, but I happened to glance up at Jack's Mom and that's when I saw the look.
It was half deer-in-headlights and half hand-in-the-cookie-jar. It was a furtive glance at me (completely void of eye contact) and a quick switch to Matt's Mom with an almost audible level of meaningful eye contact - a plaintive "Ix-nay on the arty-pay."
Had it not been for the look, the question would have continued to not register. Had it not been for the look, if I even thought about it I would have thought that Matt and Jack had a special friendship, or that Jack got to choose one friend for his birthday and chose Matt. Had it not been for the look, it would have been a complete and total non-issue.
But there was the look.
The look that said "I made a conscious decision not to invite Bud to Jack's birthday party." The look that said "He's just too different, too difficult, too immature, too unpredictable." The look that said "My kid just doesn't like your kid - nothing personal." The look that said, "This is awkward cause I know we were kind of starting to become friends, but this is my kid's birthday party and I don't want your kid to screw it up." The look that said "Get used to it."
The reality is that if Bud had any idea that Jack was having a party and he wasn't invited, he would not care in the least. The reality is that if I asked Bud if he wanted to go to a party at Jack's house, he would say "no." The reality is that if we'd been invited and I brought Bud to the party it would have been hard for him and we would have left early. The reality is that we probably would have made an excuse and not gone.
But would it have killed her to invite him? Doesn't she see that it's hard enough for him to just be in this world, without having people go out of their way to exclude him? Can't she understand that Bud is the most amazing little person she is ever likely to know and she is wasting this opportunity and robbing her son of the experience of knowing him?
Doesn't she realize how much this hurts?