From the time she was six weeks old, Norah was having play-dates. And by Norah having play-dates, I mean I was having play-dates. We saw Ruby and Caleb at least once a week, and sometimes lots of times a week. We got together with other baby friends all of the time. It's been harder since we've been in Texas, not because there aren't awesome people with kids, but because we haven't found that same groove within differing work schedules, new babies, other commitments, etc. Also, having cousins around has relieved some of my guilt in not making more effort in setting more play-dates up. And if I am being perfectly honest, I know that the majority of the friends Norah is making in pre-school will not be going to her same elementary school and I figure she will have to start from scratch at that point anyway. (Don't even get me started about how much I suck regarding play dates and Lou. He's never had one with anyone he's not related to. I will pay for his therapy, I promise).
We have been really fortunate in that my work schedule has been very flexible and Bubby is around to pick up a lot of the child care slack. When we first got Norah into the school she is at now, the only availability for her class was full time (five days a week, all day), or the Tuesday/Thursday class, all day. We didn't need full time care and I did not want to pay for full time care, so we took the Tuesday/Thursday spot. She likes her school and her class, but only going two days a week and going ALL day turned out to be a bit of a problem (okay, a big problem). She felt very disconnected from her peers and what was going on in the class because she missed so much of it and wasn't around when the girls were really getting to know each other, as almost everyone else was there full time. Plus, she really, really hated having to nap at school and even the thought of it gave her major anxiety. For whatever reason, things kind of came to a head last fall (after she had been on that schedule for a few months), and school days really became stress days. She would cry on the mornings she had to go to school, beg not to have to go to school, and then completely effing lose it when I took her to school. I mean, full on hysterical crying, begging me not to leave, losing it.
WTF? This wasn't her first time at the rodeo. She had been in the care of someone else for a good part of the day since she was a year old, and had been in a school environment for well over a year. After conferencing with her teachers we decided she needed to be there more often and at the first of the year we transitioned her to five days a week, half days. She is there every day now, but either myself or Bubby picks her up after lunch as the other kids are winding down and getting ready to take a nap. It's made a remarkable difference. She is back to being really excited about going to school, there doesn't seem to be any anxiety, and she's really engaging with the other kids. At her parent-teacher conference last month he teacher said that while she's always been at the very top of the class academically (holla!) she is now really starting to come into her own socially. She has always been kind to others and very well liked by other kids, but super shy and unlikely to either initiate play or actively engage with what's going on. That's finally starting to change a bit and so when Norah asked if she could invite the girls from her class over for a Valentine's Day party, I was only too happy to oblige.
There are only six girls total in the class (including Norah) so it was a perfect number. I let Norah pick out all of the cups, plates, napkins, etc. and decide on the menu.
We ordered pizza, had fruit skewers, and carrots with ranch dressing. Basically, Norah's favorite meal.
We set up a cupcake decorating table and baked the cupcakes that morning (gluten free--when the girls were eating them I could tell some of them thought there was something not quite right, but thankfully no one said anything to Norah. Ha.)
As soon as the girls got there they decorated cupcakes and made a spectacular mess. I might be sweeping up sprinkles for the next year. After that they just kind of went bananas. I am actually glad I didn't plan any other activities because they just tore through the house and then played outside on the play set.
Pizza was eaten, cupcakes were consumed, all fruits and vegetables were ignored. Then they headed upstairs for popcorn and a showing of "Princess and the Popstar." One by one all of the girls tired of the movie and went and found something else to do until Norah was the only one left watching. She agreed to take a break to play, with the promise that I would "pause it so I can watch it later." She's an addict.
(This dude was a mess. He's had the cold that never goes away the past couple of weeks and was so pissed on Saturday that we knew something was wrong and BVZ took him to urgent care during the party. Ear infection, of course. He got fixed up with an antibiotic and a sticker and then came home to six girls who wanted to play with him. Not a bad life.)