Fractured Friendship

In past years we’ve generally mailed the invitations to Brendan’s birthday party the weekend after Thanksgiving.  Given that his birthday isn’t until January I know that seems really early.  But with the holidays in between there I like to make sure that people get the invite early so that hopefully it doesn’t get lost in the hustle and bustle of everything else going on in their life.  Besides, even when there aren’t holidays in between I generally send out birthday invitations about 4 weeks before the party.  I know I like as much notice as possible, and figure other parents might as well.

This year, knowing Matt would be gone, we had to figure out when we could actually have Brendan’s party.  Our options were the weekend before Matt left, which we decided against because we knew that we’d be doing last minute things to get him ready for the trip that Saturday and he left too early on Sunday to do anything then.  We briefly thought about doing it two weeks before his birthday, but that was the same weekend we were having Christmas with Matt’s family so we marked that one off too.

That left after his birthday.  Matt wouldn’t even be back until the 17th, so we knew it would be at least one week out from his birthday and, like the weekend he was supposed to leave, we figured having the party immediately on the tail end of the trip might not be the wisest choice.  So we settled on the last weekend in January.  We both hated putting it off that far, but we made sure to do some birthday things with Brendan around his birthday and make the day special.  Besides, we also explained that this would stretch out his birthday celebration for a whole month!  (we may possibly be setting him up to have a birthday superiority complex…I am not sure I’m going to like having competition for who is the biggest birthday elitest in our house)

So strange as it felt, invitations to Brendan’s birthday didn’t go out in November or even December.  Once we had the date settled on Brendan needed to decide on the locale.  The last two years he’s had his party at our house, which was a bit stressful for me but much easier on the checkbook to be sure.  This year he decided he didn’t want a home party.  Around the time this was all being decided he’d recently had the opportunity to play laser tag at the local skating rink and wanted to have a laser tag party.

I’d done all the preliminary research, so I knew the cost and the options and everything that went into a party at the skating rink.  His first home party we actually took the boys to the skating rink ourselves and then did cake and presents at our house.  It saved a lot of money to do it that way but meant that Brendan could only invite 4 friends (because after that we wouldn’t have room in our van).  But for some reason after I’d done the research I kept putting off booking the actual party.  There was no reason to, I knew the date we wanted to have it, and what Brendan wanted to do.  I’m usually right on the ball with that kind of stuff and this year I just wasn’t.

And a good thing too.  Because the day before Matt left on his trip a conversation happened at the dinner table and changed the party completely.  Brendan began talking about how he wished The Lego Movie was coming out around his birthday so he could go and see it.  Evidently Matt and Brendan had seen a preview for it the last time they’d gone to the movies (which, keep in mind, was last summer) and Brendan had never forgotten about it.  I looked it up online and found out it was being released the first weekend in February, just one week after Brendan’s birthday party.

So, after discussing it with Brendan, it was decided that we would delay his party one extra week and take the kids to see the movie instead.  This time decisions were made, the party was booked, and invitations filled out right away.  They were mailed a couple of days later than I intended because I had trouble locating all of the addresses at first, but at least they went out approximately 4 weeks before the party, my ultimate goal.

They were mailed on Monday of this week, and knowing our local postal service I knew kids would start receiving them on Tuesday and Wednesday.  I hope to get a good percentage of parents to R.S.V.P. one way or the other because the party time hasn’t exactly been set yet.  Since the movie isn’t released until the weekend we go to see it the movie theater won’t have the show times until the week before.

I wasn’t expecting to get any R.S.V.P.’s yet but Wednesday morning I woke up and saw our very first one had arrived in my email.  His best friend had gotten his invitation and was already sending back his notification about the party, it was a no.  These boys have been friends since Brendan was in first grade.  In that time his friend has been to every single birthday party we’ve had for Brendan.  I’m trying not to read too much into the reason for the no, but so many things come to mind.

We’re doing it on a Sunday this year instead of the standard Saturday.  They’re a fairly religious family so the party may interfere with their beliefs.  Along those same lines the mom is fairly strict about what things she lets her kids watch on T.V. so this movie may fall outside of the realm of what he can see.  It may be that they will have moved by then.  I know they went house hunting right before winter break so they may actually have made the move by the time that weekend rolls around.

Any of those are probable reasons why he wouldn’t be coming.  Unfortunately I think I know a more likely reason.  Ever since he announced he was moving Brendan and his relationship has been extremely strained.  At least part of it is Brendan’s fault, both times his friends told him they were moving Brendan initially got mad at them.  Both times I had to remind him that the kids didn’t ask for the move and that they probably aren’t any happier than he is about it.  Eventually he got over it but it appeared that the damage had been done.

Even though the boys weren’t in the same class this year they started out the school year by meeting up to play at recess every single day.  Not just most days, but every one.  Since the move announcement Brendan has been “too busy” to find his friend on the playground.  Eventually we finally quit asking if he’d played with his friend because the answer depressed us too much.  Despite no longer playing together on a daily basis Brendan still wanted to invite his friend to his party, which I took as a good sign that their friendship might be on the mend.

So I was heartbroken when the notice said he couldn’t come.  I thought Brendan might be too, but when I told him about it, he just said okay and moved on like it was no big deal.  It’s so sad to see the two boys growing apart like this, but Matt says it was inevitable.  He said that friends drift apart even when they live in the same town, and that moving across the state was always going to hinder their ability to stay friends.

I disagree.  I moved a lot as a child and I’ve maintained friendships with two people that I considered my best friend when I lived in the same city they did.  Are we still best friends?  Probably not, but at least I keep in touch with them now and again, and every time their name pops up in my Facebook feed I’m filled with nostalgic memories from the days when we were best friends.  I’m still holding out hope the boys can become pen pals.  It’s how I maintained my friendships back in the day before social media made it possible to connect via the internet.

Time will tell what is going to happen with this friendship, and in the meantime I can focus on the other boys invited to the party and hope that somewhere in the group is the makings for a new best friend for Brendan.

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