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Birthday Betrayal

My Little Miss is at an awkward in-between stage. She has the body of a teenager, the intellect of her own age, and maturity that ebbs and flows. She prefers friends to toys. She prefers friends to anything really. Knowing this, we decided on a toy free Christmas. Her enthusiasm slowly waned until she couldn’t hide her confusion or disappointment. While she loved everything we had given her, she said Christmas felt a little strange since she never got any toys. I felt bad. Not a full-fledged Mom Fail, but my big ideas had fallen flat. No worries. I would make up for my mistake with her birthday. My plan was to buy her the Mary Ellen American Girl doll she is so in love with. Heath still wanted to get her a cell phone. A doll and a phone for our daughter’s 11th birthday. She was going to be thrilled.


Somewhere in January, she asked for a birthday party. Without hesitation my response was a deadpan no. She insisted. So did I. This verbal tennis match continued each day until my resolve wore down. I had forced the idea of earrings wishing she was as passionate as I was about earrings at the same age. In the end, I got my wish when she begged, pleaded, and cajoled with well-rehearsed speeches. She even took it upon herself to start planning the party in an effort to clear my plate. I must admit, I was impressed by her tenacity.


I was teetering on the edge of damnation. A coveted expensive doll or the party of her dreams? She couldn’t have both. The money tree hasn’t taken root yet. I gave her the choice. She didn’t know about the doll, but I told her if she chose a party, she would only get gifts from her friends. To her credit, she hesitated for a short moment before choosing the party. I knew she would. Friends are oxygen to this kid.


Damnation swallowed me whole. I knew the party was a good idea but memories soured my mind. My worst birthday was my 11th birthday when my parents literally wrapped test strips boxes and syringe packages. I thought they were joking. They told me my diabetes supplies were expensive enough to be my birthday presents. My consolation prize for a confused broken heart was a doll outfit. It hurt but at least I got the doll outfit. I loved dolls. Gwen wants to love dolls but she really doesn’t. She only plays with her toys with friends and most of the time she plays at someone else’s house. So here I was, the worst mother in the world. I gave in so my kid could have exactly what she wanted along with an unexpected side of regret. At least my parents gave me one toy accessory for my 11th birthday. I wasn’t even doing that. I had killed Christmas and went on to murder my daughter’s birthday too.


I can hear your laughter and sense your eyes rolling. I get why you would. What you don’t get is my daughter. She is my mini me in looks and over the top emotional reactions. I know my daughter. All I could do was hope.


Friday came along with her birthday. When I went in to wake her up, she unsuccessfully hid a goofy smile as she turned over to give me her back to rub. She admitted to being awake since 5:00 that morning. I was this close to giving her the gift we had chosen for her so she could have it before school. I got her a hair dryer. I know. Who invited this mom? She hates walking to the bus stop with wet hair. I thought it would be useful while being a more grown up girly thing. Gwen and I have not bonded over girly things yet. She has more fashion sense than I do and that’s where the femininity ends. I won’t go into detail but Valentine’s Day was not a good day. I spent the day crying after we had an explosive fight … er over something girly. Really, I should be flogged for even considering the hair dryer being a good gift for a free spirited 11-year-old girl not interested in growing up too soon.


Parker was busy drawing a picture on Gwen’s freshly wrapped present. She almost didn’t go play with her best friend because she would rather wait to open her birthday present. Later that afternoon stormy tears were shed after she was finally able to open the long-awaited gift. The final nail was hammered into my coffin as the worst mother ever. The fuzzy picture is an action shot of her moving the paper out of the way. It looks like she is horrified by the dryer.


One of my favorite quotes says, “Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.” This quote wrapped itself around the few bright spots of my worst Mother Failure Day. The first was when my friend texted in response to me prepping for the party. “You’re amazing! She’s so blessed to have a super momma like you!” The second was when my mother in law, unaware of the chasm spreading due to untold drama between me and my “best girl,” said to Gwen over the phone, “You are so lucky to have a mom who has worked so hard for your birthday party. You should give her a hug and thank her for all her hard work. Your party is going to be really fun.”


Gwen did hug me and thanked me with betrayal and tears in her eyes. Somehow the night wasn’t a total disaster. The next morning I showed Gwen how to use her hair dryer. She gave me an unsolicited hug and told me how glad she was that I gave it to her. She has been thanking me ever since. So I’m starting to believe her. Her birthday may have been a bust but I still had a chance to redeem myself. Stay tuned for the party review.

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