Saturday, May 1, 2004

Nervous Mom.

Katherine isn't home this evening. She's at a birthday sleep-over.

Ordinarily this wouldn't be too worrisome. The girls both had a sleep-over recently when the Brownie Jamboree ran late and the troup leader had Katherine call us to ask if they could just spend the night instead of us going to get her. It was fine, they live all of 5 minutes away and we didn't have to drive at 11 p.m.
This is different though. Katherine was invited to Dominique's birthday party (a classmate) which is a surprise all its own. Katherine and Dominique didn't get along at the beginning of the year. Mrs. Bayly would tell me about the difficulties they were having, and the steps she was taking to force them to work through their differences. They were given space, but also told to work together on various projects and day-to-day tasks. I wasn't thrilled with Dominique because she sounded cliquish and well, she was hurting my baby's feelings.
Over the months, Mrs. Bayly noted that the girls were starting to get along. They could sit at the same table and work effectively. Katherine was coming home with tales about how they were playing at the recess and having fun in class. I made sure to ask that their friendship was not dependent on casting out others. It seemed that her first friends Meg and Elspeth weren't in the picture as much as they had been and while I understand shifting alliances, I wanted her to be very sure that she was being kind to all her classmates, no matter who she was playing with or "best friends" with now. I know that Meg and Elspeth are good kids, and I knew nothing about Dominique and her friend Joanna. It worried me.
Today we drove to White Plains, Quezon, to drop her off for her party. On a bad day, the drive can take 45 minutes or more. Today was not a bad day. We left at 10:50 for an 11:30 start, and we arrived by 11:15. The party was to start at 11:30 with lunch, followed by an afternoon at Enchanted Kingdom. The kids were expected back after 9, sleep-over time. There were 8 girls and 4 adults going to Enchanted Kingdom, so my first worries over losing her entirely at the park were eased.
Our early arrival wasn't a problem and I was thankful for the chance to meet and speak with her parents.
That's right, I had agreed to let Katherine spend the night at a place where I had never met the parents, in a home I'd never been to, with a child I am not too fond of. Anxiety. What was I thinking? You have to understand that the community in an overseas expat/foreign national/local wealthy class school is different than a public school back home. I'm not sure how to explain it, it's just different. It's tighter and there's a degree of trust, even if you don't personally know the other people.
We had a chance to introduce ourselves and they were kind enough to ask us to stay for lunch, so we talked for several hours. Dominique's dad is Bruce Purdue from Australia. Her mother is Ching, a Cebuano. She has an older brother who is currently at boarding school in Australia, so Dominique is basically an only child. We chatted about all sorts of subjects, but the one that stood out for me was about this party. Ching had expressed surprise when Dominique asked to include Katherine on her invite list. I told her that when Katherine received the invite, she was -thrilled-. What I was pleased to hear was that Ching also knew that the girls had their differences at the beginning of the year. It meant a lot to know that I wasn't the only one hearing from Mrs. Bayly. I already knew that Mrs. Bayly was a fabulous teacher, but to realize that she really is on the pulse of every student and keeping tabs on them was reassuring. We compared notes about the girls and realized that their issues most likely stemmed from both being headstrong, opinionated individuals. In some respects they are too much alike. But the year and the teacher have done them good and they had smoothed over their differences. Dominique had invited her, Katherine was happy, all was well.
But I still have this nagging feeling that only a mom can have. Katherine is a good-hearted kid and I worry that she is being set up for hurt feelings. I worry that she was invited to be ignored. I worry that she was invited but will be left out. I worry that she won't be in the thick of things and she'll be left on the side to read her Nancy Drew Mystery. I don't want to think that Dominique would do that, but I have to admit it's in the back of my mind.
Until we pick her up tomorrow and I see her smile and hear all the wonderfully fun things she did, I'll worry. Afterall, that's my job.
UPDATE: Katherine came home happy and mildly sunburned, sporting a new Enchanted Kingdom t-shirt and lots of stories about wild rides at the park. It seems she was the stick in the mud, for after their return home at 10 p.m. the rest of the girls wanted to start a pillow fight around 11 and Katherine just wanted to go to sleep. That's my girl! They were up about 6 the next morning, and before we went to church I got a phone call from Ching asking if she could stay later with the rest of the group because they wanted to go to the park nearby to go swimming.
When we went to get her, it was obvious that she was thoroughly exhausted. She had a great time with the other kids and all the activity, so my fears were unfounded. Thank goodness. I know I need to give Dominique a chance, even Katherine says I'm not giving her a fair shake. It's just hard to change my impression of her since all I really have to go on is the difficulties Katherine was having at the beginning of the year. I have to realize that other kids and their parents probably say and think the same things about my own kid. For Katherine's sake, I'll let my old notions go.
So we picked her up and while fun is fun she had been wiped out and was ready to head home.

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