It was something that had to happen. The only problem was, I wasn’t expecting it to happen this soon. This thing could tear our happy, little family wide-apart; at least in the short-term. It will cause uncountable tears and tantrums. It will be the source of much anguish and heart-break. One of my daughters has been invited to a birthday party and the other hasn’t.
I thought this would happen when they were older and had established firm friendship groups. But my daughters are only five and the both play with the little girl in question, so to try to explain it to them will be a traumatic experience for all concerned. I mentioned it to a friend of mine. She said, “I wouldn’t do that. Not at this age, anyway. I’m surprised they have. Her mum’s a psychologist.” “Fantastic!” I thought. “She’s surreptitiously using my daughters as guinea pigs in some kind of secret twin trial.”
Luckily, the party invite was hidden in the favoured daughter’s book-bag so I was able to whisk it away without her noticing. Then, the dilemma started. Should I allow the favoured-one to go? After all, they are not the same person and, perhaps, the sooner they understand they can do things separately the better. But, they are only five years old and to tell them would break the unfavoured daughter’s heart. I thought, maybe, I could take the unfavoured daughter out for a special treat whilst her sister was at the party but I knew, deep-down, that this wouldn’t make up for the disappointment and rejection she would feel. This may seem like a dramatic statement to you but that’s because you haven’t had to live with the disappointment and rejection the unfavoured daughter felt after Sports’ Day. In fact, this is another thing I was hoping not to have to deal with just yet,
The unfavoured daughter is quite small and not very good at running. However, she threw herself into the School Sports’ Day and seemed to enjoy it despite still collecting bean-bags in the bean bag race when all the other children had finished. She ran valiantly and sololy and with a big beaming smile to the finish line encouraged on by lots of “awws” from other parents. I gave her a big hug and congratulated her and thought she wasn’t affected by it – after all she’s only five. But I was wrong.
On the way home, she said, “I’m not very good at running, am I?” I explained that she was only small and that we can’t always win. I asked her if she had had a good time, to which she answered “Yes.” “As long as you had fun, it doesn’t matter where you finish, ” I said; quoting countless parents before me. I hoped that that would be it. That the matter would be put well and truly to bed and we could forget about it. But, again, I was wrong.
The following week, my daughter was upset as ‘no-one would play with her’ at school. After a little digging (no-one ever tells you when you become a parent that you will need to develop and hone good police detective skills), I discovered that she wouldn’t fully participate in a game as she was not good at running. “The other children would have caught me straight away,” she sobbed.
“Fucking School Sports’ Day,” I silently muttered to myself. I explained to her how we can’t all be good at everything. I told her that she is very good at art and reading but not all the children in her class are. I gave her a list of the things I’m not good at. It was very long as you can imagine. I also told her she can only try her best and that we could practise running over the Summer Holidays as that’s the only way she will get better at it. I wiped her tears and gave her a cuddle. I wanted to tell her that, although when you are at school being good at sports seems to be the be all and end all of things, in the long run it means jack-shit. Except, of course, if you are a professional athlete; which most of us aren’t or ever likely to be.
And so my dilemma was solved for me. There could only be one outcome. I will graciously decline the invite, offer up no explanation for doing so and wish the little girl a very happy birthday. After all, what else could I do?