or: Well that's better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick.
Three year olds and pointy sticks don't mix. Now, no one was seriously hurt, I assure you, but lessons were learned.
This Sunday the geekykids and I accidentally invited ourselves to a friend's child's third birthday barbeque. What happened was that on the preceding Saturday we were at the 41st birthday party of a different good friend, mom to Geekgygirls friend N. The other friends husband said " will you make it to A's birthday party tomorrow?" We had not actually been invited, which I attempted to communicate gracefully, without seeming to be slighted (I was not at all put out, guest lists for parties have many constraining factors, and I always consider myself happy to be invited to anyone's carefully planned occasion, and completely understand if numbers/prior fashion faux pas/badly behaved kids/simple sleep deprived oversight have deemed me and mine uninvited.)
But of course we were invited on the spot, and I felt that they did genuinely want us to come. Well, I really wanted to feel that way, since they had secured a wonderful location (Fort Mason, overlooking the bay), it was a fabulous warm day, I needed a nice 'get out of the house' activity since Geekydaddy was feeling "kidded out", and they are both vegetarians (like me) and superb cooks.
So we went to the party. The drive from where we live over to Fort Mason never fails to take my breath away. The car crested, then tipped over to point down at Alcatraz, and Geekygirl gasped "Mummy, look at the ocean! Don't drive into it", quite understandably, because it really feels as if you could just fall right into the bay.
We toy with leaving our city for the burbs, Geekydaddy and I. The terrible schools, our ridiculous commutes (mine is only 30 miles but Geekydaddy drives over 50 miles each way a day, down to Santa Clara) make us question why we stay here, but the sheer breathtaking beauty of the bay, bridge and sky on a sunny day recharges me with the will to remain a San Franciscan. For an Engish girl, living here still feels like waking up in glorious technicolor. The scientist in me knows the sky is bluer because of the curvature of the earth, but the affect these cornflower skies and the azure water have on me is not rational. Just when I think I know the city like the back of my hand I find a new spot with a different, even more perfect view.
There at this glorious edge of the western world, we ate our gourmet barbeque, our kids ran and played on an ancient cannon, and indulged in the time honoured game of climbing up and rolling down a grassy bank. Geekygirl, who, when I observe her play seems to take over groups of children and bring them into a world of her own making, had devised an intricate game of "lets save the baby alligators" which involved giving the imaginary baby alligators hidden in the trees food dangled from sticks found on the ground. How sweet, me and my friend of the 41st birthday party observed. Not once did we think "should they be playing with sticks?".
Sure enough a wail ensued and apparently Geekygirl had gotten her stick in her friend N's her eye. I give great credit to my friend for not being in the slightest bit angry, or wanting to seek explanations and assigne blame. N was fine, but I found myself wanting to know what had actually happened. Geekygirl was sheepish. But was she just worried about her friend, or had she deliberately hurt her? I was just recently reading "the secret of happy children" by Steve Biddulph, which reminded me that our assumptions about our kids can become a self fulfilling prophecy. So I assumed innocence, acted with empathy and an attempt to draw her out; "You look like you are worried about N", which was met with agreement and relief, and culminated in an apology for the accidental poke in the eye.
I keep a mental checklist of "successful parenting moments" (and the unsuccessful ones too, maybe I should make myself a sticker chart) and chalked this one up as a situation well handled. If the birthday party invitations dry up though, I may have to rethink my assessment. And it could of course all have been prevented if we had realized the obvious, and not let the kids run around with sharp sticks!