Breaking his heart

While I was gallivanting around Manhattan last Tuesday, my beloved boy turned 10 years old. I worried ahead of time about his birthday and my husband assured me that he’d take care of everything with a celebratory dinner at our son’s favorite restaurant.  His birthday party was scheduled for the following weekend (last night).

Several times in the preceding week, I considered calling my son’s teacher to see if she had an official birthday policy. This entire school year, my son had never mentioned birthdays in his class, nor had I ever seen evidence of cupcakes or Ding-Dongs or any sort of birthday treat.  However, the cacophony of details raging in my head stopped me from following through.  Bad move.

My husband tells me that Tuesday afternoon when he picked up our son from school on his 10th birthday, he spotted our son’s best friend’s mother coming out of the school with a birthday balloon and leftover cupcakes.  Our son and his best friend share a birthday (and also have joint birthday parties each year).  Then, our son appeared, looking devastated.  He cried for an hour over the lack of birthday cupcakes in his honor.

My husband told me this over the phone . . . and, of course, there was nothing I could do but suggest cupcakes the next day.

The next morning, my son–who is rarely ill and loves school–asked to stay home from school.  When my husband asked, the teacher reported nothing unusual in class the day before.  He gained permission to bring cupcakes the following day and my son stayed home all day, claiming fatigue.

It does turn out that he is sort of sniffly now with some cold symptoms, so maybe he wasn’t feeling great on Wednesday.  However, I think he was just sick with disappointment.

This marks the third serious breach of parental expectations in our lives as his parent.  It’s one thing for a child to experience pain and disappointment in his lifetime, but, oh, why do I have to be the one to hand-deliver the little heart-breaks to my baby boy who troubles us so little and impresses us so much?  I hate making mistakes more than the usual bear, but to make a mistake that hurts my child?  Horrible.

(And yet, now, all seems forgotten and forgiven, though I am sort of afraid to bring it up again.  His birthday party last night was a loud, boisterous success as far as I can tell.)

6 thoughts on “Breaking his heart

  1. Just to cheer you, it will give you a point of reference (a theme in the m. l’engle book i just finished) when other troubles befall him.

    You will be able to say, do you feel as bad as you did on your 10th birthday?

    I would give you examples from my mothering experiences but I’m depressed enough.


  2. Once I forgot about the Thanksgiving Dinner at school where parents get to eat with the kids. Jon sat and waited and waited for me and I never showed. I know that you feel like dirt now, and I can’t say that I have ever gotten over hurting Jon like that. But I sure have learned from it and that’s good. Tell him that you’re really sorry and that you feel really bad but sometimes parents make mistakes too.


  3. Awwww…that’s so awful knowing there’s no way we can rewind that day and make it un-disappointing (is that even a word?) I wish I could ship butter cookies that I made on the weekend, all the way from India! Poor baby.


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