Yesterday, when I picked Briggs up from school there were two things he wanted to talk about:
- His March Madness picks
- Oliver’s birthday
“Mom, do we have plans for March 25?” he asked, from the backseat as we pulled into our driveway.
“Ah, yeah,” I said, “you’re doing your comedy routine in the town talent show.”
“I know, but what about after the show?”
“I haven’t gotten that far, why?”
“It’s Oliver’s birthday. He’s going to be six, just like I’m going to be six on June 29, but he’s having his sixth birthday on March 25.”
He loves numbers so much.
“Okay, Bub,” I say, as I shut off the car and we start to make our way in the house. “I’ll look at the invitation and see what time the party starts and we’ll go from there.”
“He didn’t give me an invitation.”
“But, Oliver said I could still come. I need to get him a present.”
As Briggs takes off his coat and backpack, I start mentally unpacking a zillion different scenarios.
It’s extremely plausible that Oliver is having a family party, with no invitations and no kiddos from school, and Briggs has inserted himself into a private, quiet celebration. It’s equally as plausible that there are kiddos coming, and Briggs may not be one of them. Also, so far this year all of the birthday invites have come via email, and I’m a bit panicked that I’ve missed something.
Regardless, Briggs is stuck on getting Oliver a present.
“Mom, even if I can’t make the party, we could just ship Oliver’s present to him. The box will probably fit in the mail. I have to get him something.”
I decided to ask Briggs to play back the conversation with Oliver a few more times. I’m sleuthing.
“Tell me again, where were you when Oliver mentioned his birthday?”
Okay, that means in front of the teacher and all of the kids – this likely wasn’t an invite, but rather an announcement. Definitely leaning toward family party.
“Did he have a handful of envelopes?”
No invites handed out at school – cool – this is a reminder to search my gmail.
“Why do you “have” to get him a present?”
“He’s my friend.”
In the words of Love Actually, “enough, enough know.”
Truth is, I wanted to know why Briggs was so stuck on getting Oliver a present, if Oliver had quite possibly not even invited Briggs to his party. But that’s weak.
Because it’s not about doing unto other as they do unto you. And, it really can’t be about about compromising your act of love, or friendship, or gratitude based on someone else’s behaviors or conditions.
Strength is accepting the invitation to do right by you – even when that means opening yourself up to feeling uncomfortable, or awkward, or vulnerable, or excluded, or defeated.
And I’m grateful for the reminder, that what I actually want to be, is stronger.