There. I said it. Son #1 (age 11.5) was invited to a classmate's sleepover/birthday party but I'm not sure how keen I am on allowing him to go. It starts Friday around 6-7 pm. The next morning there'll be cake, ice cream, gifts, followed by pizza and a movie. The invitation says we can pick my son up between 4 and 5 on Saturday afternoon.
Red flag #1: How insane must these parents be to host a houseful of boys (8 are invited) for almost twenty-one hours??? Okay, so I'm mostly kidding there.
The birthday boy and Son #1 have been in the same class at school for the past three years. Last year, they didn't get along so well, but Son #1 tolerated Birthday Boy's teasing because they share a mutual friend (Son #1's best friend ever). I recall last summer Son #1 hoping that Birthday Boy would not be in his class this year. We talked about ways that Son #1 could better stand up for himself without making Best Friend Ever choose who to hang with. We also talked about how Birthday Boy might mature over the summer.
Well, here we are halfway through the school year and Son #1 and Birthday Boy are getting along fine. Son #1 is happy to have been invited. He's rarely invited to parties unless it's for family or he's being invited as a courtesy because Son #2 (the more outgoing of my two older boys) has been invited and their social circles overlap. Actually Son #1 doesn't have much of a social circle. He has a few kids he spends time with at school, but at home, he prefers reading and building things to spending time with something as trivial as people.
Son #1 wants to attend the party. I spoke to Best Friend Ever's mom. Her son was invited but isn't too excited to be going. There are some "things" going on (red flag #2), but she really didn't elaborate. I think BFE might be tiring of Birthday Boy. She said if BFE wanted to go, she'd let him, but she's not pushing it, which I can respect.
Son #1 and I left it at this: he needs to ask Birthday Boy who else is attending. If Son #1 knows them pretty well, I'll consider it. My concern is if Son #1 doesn't know any of the other guests, how will he handle it if Birthday Boy reverts to his former pattern of teasing my kid?
Am I worrying too much? Am I not trusting Son #1's judgment enough? Son #1 has ADHD and a speech impediment. He's an eccentric child, but very small for his age. Sometimes (okay, often) I'm afraid this will make him an 'easy target'.
My latest thought is that perhaps I can come up with a conflict for Friday night, but call Birthday Boy's mom to see if it would be okay for Son #1 to join the festivities early Saturday. It would be different if I new Birthday Boy and his parents better. On the other hand, I share his excitement that he has another friend. I know I can't hold his hand forever, but I have a tough time knowing when to let him spread his wings. (And to be honest, I do sometimes underestimate Son #1.)