Birthday party cliques start early
Jack is reaching the age where an invite to a birthday party has the potential to have social repercussions.
This week, two children from his nursery have been handing out invites to their parties. Jack is, in toddler terms at least, good friends with both of them. However, only one of them chose to invite Jack to their birthday party.
Now I should make clear that I harbour no resentment. Choosing who comes to your party is a complicated affair, especially for a toddler, and is no doubt wrought with parental interventions and plenty of coaxing.
But it did make me realise what a socially significant event these exclusive parties can be, even at such a young age.
Although I saw no signs of it myself, my wife (who works at the school) said Jack was noticeably irked that he had not been invited to his friends party. Specifically, he recognised he was a closer friend with the child in question than a great deal of others who had been invited.
By contrast, Jack was ecstatic about being invited to this other party. He couldn’t wait to tell me, and proceeded to invite both myself and my wife along with him as the prospect unfolded in his mind’s eye.
Then it dawned on me. There will be, without a doubt, some children who will hardly ever get invited to birthday parties for their entire school life.
Most of us will know the ones I’m talking about from our own experience of school – and God only knows how this affected them over the longer term.
I won’t be dictating to Jack who he can invite when his birthday party swings around. And neither do I expect Jack to become one of those children outcast from the ‘party circuit’. He is a popular boy, after all.
But I will try to get him to understand that he should make an effort to make friends with anyone he feels is being left out, in his general day-to-day nursery life. Because no-one deserves to be excluded from a clique at that young age. There’s plenty of that to come in later life.