A Girl’s Birthday Party
My youngest daughter is having a birthday party soon, as she does every year. This is the first year that she will not be inviting her whole class. All past parties have been a mixture of boys and girls except last year’s. Last year she invited the whole class but only girls came. I have no problem with her not inviting the boys this year. Actually, I would not have had a problem with that if she started it sooner than now. She is not however inviting all the girls. I have a problem with this, not a big enough problem to mention it to her and discourage her from her current plans but enough that it is causing me to work through some tangle that I’ve failed to identify.
More like a problem that I need to work out for my mental satisfaction. I’ve always felt the dull blunt of exclusion. There was never luxury enough to feel a sharpness in exclusion. I don’t mean exclusion in the Hollywood movies sense of the word, the poor me the “mean and/or popular girls” have excluded me, because frankly, my environment/culture did not nourished mean and popular girls. Either because we were all in the same boat, as in, we were all just getting by or trying to appear as if we were getting by or because we all knew that one day we could be on top of the world just to be on the bottom the very next day. Granted there were always one or two nasty girls but they were not ostracized, but individualized. And of course she would not be forced to wear the shame of individualized behavior if she learned to change her ways, to remember where she came from and know that if she didn’t she would be left on her own when the shoe was on the other foot. It has been mostly white culture that has glamorized exclusion.
Often one was excluded out of empathy. Why bother burdening someone who would obviously be placed in a position of hardship in order to attend a party? Or one would self-exclude because of the possibility of revealing an otherwise hidden hardship/burden. And if the hardship was known and the person self-excluded it was not mentioned via a demand for an excuse or an apology for not attending. You simply did not attend and no one talked about it. That sense of empathetic community policing (what a horrid word) is certainly what I miss most since mass consumerist-assimilation has destroyed many communities. Or if one were not to call it consumerist-assimilation then I guess one could say I miss the practice of having one expressed practice by my peers for the greater [white] public’s appeasement and another expressed practice for the immediate [black] community. That dualism device is no longer used. Now, one can be in a space predominately occupied with black appearing people stereotypically dressed and behaving in a way that a white audience would utilize to denote blackness, and still feel a dominating air of whiteness with no feeling of reserved blackness for later rejuvenation.
But never you mind about that because I cannot pinpoint exactly who I could have this conversation with because I am talking about such a unique time and place and circumstances that have been overshadowed by other tropes that post-racial whites and blacks are more willingly ready to own and legitimize, that I feel that I may be limited to only having myself to grasp what is begging to be grasped in my understanding.
Nevertheless, regardless of whether it was self-exclusion or circumstantial exclusion I feel guilty about being an active proprietor of exclusion (I am talking about exclusion among girls only, as said already, I am not bother about excluding the boys). The child has a right not to invite whomever she does not want to. Girls who lie and say they made out with Justin Beiber are not invited, girls who cannot talk about anything but chasing boys at recess are not invited, girls who are ashamed of their shoe size and go on about my daughter’s shoe size are not invited, etc,. I am just having a problem imagining myself as one of those girls who may catch a whiff of invitations being passed out and finding out that none had my name on it.
On the other end of the pendulum, at this stage of development it is out of the question to recognize and then explore any reason why a girl would refuse to attend.
Regardless of how much effort it takes for me to fix my face and bite the what ifs off my tongue, I will not influence her decision. I do need to work it out though for my peace and a reassurance that I am not going soft.