You probably already know (because I’ve been banging on about it for weeks) that it’s Vinay’s first birthday soon and I’m trying to organise his party. I actually think that his birthday should be about *him* – but it seems that I was very wrong and it’s about every one (yes, you *do* detect a note of sarcasm)…
Anyway, while looking at the list (again) and adding more names to it (again), I began to wonder if it was *really* necessary to invite those two children whose mum I kind of know through those other people that I don’t know that well. The children’s names? No, I don’t know… And what about that other woman? The one I know through a friend of a friend? Should I invite her and her two kids also?
Yes – I will invite them. I will invite them all. Keep reading to see why.
It was 1989 and my mum and I were planning my 11th birthday party. We were making a list of all my friends and I was writing the invitations with her. I told her that there was a boy in my class that I didn’t want to invite because I didn’t like him. She didn’t say, ‘Ok darling, whatever you like.’ She told me that if I didn’t invite everyone in my class, there would be no party. I sulked a little, but wrote out his invite anyway. When all the invitations were ready I took them into school and asked my teacher if I could give them out. I can remember exactly how the furniture in the classroom was positioned. I can even remember where some of my friends sat. I walked up and down the aisles of the classroom and happily handed out my invites. As I got closer to the desk of the boy-I-didn’t-want-to-invite, I felt a bit annoyed. Why did I have to invite him anyway? He was rude, arrogant and obnoxious (he really was – I remember) and I didn’t want him at my party. I reached his desk and told him that I had forgotten his invitation at home and would bring it for him the following day. He didn’t say anything. He never asked me for it and I never gave it to him. *Hangs head in shame*
I never really thought about it again until I started teaching. When I first started teaching in Lagos, the school had been open a year and there were only 6-10 children in a class. And I would see, on a regular basis, children handing out birthday party invitations to their peers and one or two of their classmates would be excluded. Those poor children didn’t know why they weren’t invited or what they had done wrong and their feelings were hurt. Therefore, as soon as we (my TA and I) realised someone had party invitations, we took them off the child and put them into each child’s homework folders ourselves.
It was during these few years that I remembered what I had done all those years ago. I feel so incredibly guilty. How could I have done something so heartless? I’m not a nasty person… I cry during the Ellen DeGeneres Show, for goodness sake!
So, keeping this in mind – I will invite those children I don’t know that well. And their mums who I also don’t know that well. Because I don’t want anyone to feel left out – and I don’t want anyone to feel like the boy-I-didn’t-want-to-invite must have felt.
If he ever reads this, I hope he knows how sorry I am 😦