When my New York girlfriends visit town we play a game that doesn’t have a name yet. It goes like this: I tell her what it’s like to raise kids in LA and then she counters with anecdotes about what it’s like to raise kids in New York and then we both roll our eyes and hope that we’re doing it right. We hope that we’re doing parenting right because we’re smart enough to know that we really don’t know what we’re doing a lot of the time.
Usually it’s a draw. We match overbearing, crazy or inattentive stories coast to coast. Actresses’ kids and models’ kids have a lot in common, the tiger moms might choose different winter sports (if they allow sports) and occasionally we laugh at our own foibles. Like when I didn’t know what day school started, the time I forgot to pick up the kid I carpool with or when I cannot be bothered to make a sandwich for lunch but instead bring In ‘n Out midday. We laugh at parenting because parenting is funny and flawed and sometimes ridiculous but this week New York City won the Competimom Olympics in the most spectacular fashion.
My friend has a daughter in the second grade. Second grade kids in private schools are anywhere between seven and nine depending upon the parent’s philosophy. You see some parents know that their child is very advanced and absolutely must start kindergarten at five, other parents would like their children (boys usually) to be a little older and bigger so they can be on varsity sports teams in high school. Some parents read about the age requirements and don’t require any finessing. Stranger things have happened.
So, at this swank New York City private school a second grade girl is having her birthday party and the mother invites about two thirds of the girls in the class. The rule of thumb is that unless you are limited by capacity or if you are doing a small party for a kid who really doesn’t want a big crowd you invite all the girls. Inviting two thirds of the girls is a hostile move when there are only a dozen girls in a class, the difference between inviting 8 and 12 kids isn’t worth mentioning. What is worth mentioning is the theme of the party.
Rich and Beautiful
The theme of the party for a second grade girl is Rich and Beautiful and guess which four girls weren’t invited? Obviously, the four who were deemed to be neither rich nor beautiful. I cannot confirm that these girls were from families who required financial aid but when I asked my friend about it there was no denial.
Every so often I wonder if I’m just living in a different world so I asked some of my girlfriends if they’d let their second grade daughter go to a party that was themed Rich and Beautiful. About half of them said yes but all of them said they’d prefer it didn’t happen. When I asked them if they’d let their second grade daughter go to a Rich and Beautiful party when not all the girls in a class had been invited there was an audible gasp from each and every one of them, they would make up an excuse to not attend. When I told my children there was a Rich and Beautiful birthday party they thought it was cute, when I told them it was for a second grade girl there was a Gottlieb chorus of, “Oh my god!”
It seems as though second grade birthday parties range from Ocean themed parties to Frozen to roller skating and renting out an entire movie theater. Lots of friends are all about an activity like rock climbing or cake decorating but no one I know had hosted or been invited to a party that included the words Rich or Beautiful.
I’m sure that the omission of the scholarship girls was out of respect and cultural sensitivity. These are pillars of the community after all.