A big bright spot this week: Julian's birthday party!
I felt a little guilty about skipping a "real" friends party, but sometimes something has to give. And actually, as shortcuts go, this was among the better ones.
First, his class sang Happy Birthday to him, adorned in a special birthday hat.
I took advantage of the captive audience to do a 2-minute presentation on the holiday Kwanzaa, which starts on Julian's birthday. Ironically, if his birthday really were Christmas Day, I'd de-emphasize that, but Kwanzaa actually helps distinguish his birthday from Christmas and he likes the fact that his birthday is also a "holiday."
Then I told the story about his first being named "Adam," and about how the family story is that "Doudna" comes from Dave's ancestor answering "Dunno!" when asked what his last name was. Julian told the story of me forgetting to put bananas in banana muffins, and then all the kids had stories about things their moms forgot! I really enjoyed my few moments of stand-up in front of this welcoming audience.
Then Julian passed out the banana muffins (no cake allowed), and blew out his candle.
He passed around the party favors -- a wrapped book for each classmate -- and we capped it off with a photo. I've had lots of other photos of me and kids this week, but I look so stressed and strained that I deleted them, but not this one.
I thanked Julian's (substitute today) teacher profusely, packed up the party stuff, then made a final stop at the school office to donate a book in Julian's name for his birthday.
In the school office, there's a cart for parents to drop off forgotten lunches, so that they don't disrupt classes dropping off lunches. There, on the lunch cart, I saw a take-out bag from McDonald's with a kid's name and room number on it. Some forgotten lunch. Whaddya know -- someone even more discombobulated than I am.
I went home, satisfied that I hadn't completely screwed up one thing this week.
An hour later, I picked the boys up and took them to Katrina's holiday party. All the preschoolers sing songs they've rehearsed for weeks -- all except Katrina, that is. She knows the songs and pays attention, but refuses to sing along.
(She's roughly in the middle, in the back, with a purple striped shirt.)
Afterward, the "party" consisted of the kids eating yet more cookies and candy. The boys happily joined, proud to be with their sister, competing for her attention as usual, but in unusual peace.
And then we all went home, where I cleaned out and put away lunchbags for the two whole weeks. The only thing that overshadows my relief at school being out is the fond memory of Julian's birthday party.