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I bet they'd come if I made the frightening hand

I'd been toying with the idea for a couple of weeks, to invite people over for a casual gathering before Saturday night trick-or-treating.  I'd order pizza for the kids, put together a few amusing edibles for the adults — certainly this, certainly not this — and we'd all go out wilding, as the young people call it, as a group.

I meant to put a sign up at the preschool on Monday inviting everyone in Charlie's class, but I was sick and spent all day lying in bed either sleeping or mentally composing my will.  (If anybody wants 10,000 units of hCG that expired two years ago, which I have inexplicably kept for four years past the time when my ovaries might have met it with anything more than a bark of derisive laughter, holler.  We'll work us up a codicil.)

So on Tuesday we made a special trip, Charlie and I, to hang the sign.  Nice sign, too, with a spider-infested font and some clip-art and those neatly perforated "take one" tabs and everything.  I take my mothering seriously, y'all.

We got down to his classroom and prepared to hang our sign on the bulletin board next to the parent mailboxes.  And what did I see in more than half of the mailboxes?  Invitations.  Halloween-themed, obviously, unless people are using stationery with darling black bats and wee little tombstones for other purposes these days.  It's possible, I guess, that they were notes of condolence, but since no one sent e-mail drumming up casseroles, I'm pretty sure nobody died.

There were two separate invitations, in fact, to two separate functions.  Or possibly two separate coupons for two separate local semi-ghoulish service providers, although I have not heard that bat infestations are a big problem in these parts at this time of year, nor do I think the local gravestone-engraving concern offers any price breaks — at least not via flyers clearly marked "Bonfire and fireworks!"  Although come to think of it that's not a bad way to festive up a burying.  But I digress.

Two separate parties already on the books.  To which neither was of one Charlie invited to.  (I'm so upset that I've totally lost control of my grammar.  Can stress incontinence be far behind?  Not to worry. I do have a coupon for that.)

But I gritted my teeth and hung my sign anyway, feeling like an ass and a half for not posting it earlier.  I'm worried that no one will come, which would be a huge disappointment for Charlie, who's been wittering excitedly ever since we posted our invitation.  "I just know my best friends will come!"  "Mama, did you write on the sign that people should bring their costumes?  ...Maybe we should go back and add that part."  "I hope my friends like pizza!"  And this morning, "I hope some parents have pulled off the little tabs from our sign!"

Gaaaaaaaah.  So do I, kid.  Otherwise I'm going to have to pull in a couple of ringers, and it'd be awfully tough to justify flying Soledad O'Brien in for a slice and a sack full of candy.

The deeper level of anxiety, of course, is for the fact that Charlie wasn't invited to either of the other parties.  It's hard not to take it personally, even though I know, having constructed guest lists myself, that it's not necessarily a reflection of how well Charlie's liked by his friends.  It may have nothing to do with that.  It could be how well he's liked by his friends' parents — oh, God.  Or how well Paul and I are liked by his friends' parents — oh, sweet Jesus gay.  And I so want others — not everyone, but almost — to see our kids as I do.  As people with a sweet brilliance all their own, funny boys, kids who can share their gift for happiness, generous-hearted friends.  Company well worth the cost of a bat-spattered envelope and a slice of pepperoni.  And discovering that insecurity in myself, the need to have my children liked, a need I almost never feel on my own behalf, is humbling and scary as hell.

Look, all of a sudden I'm kind of regretting including "CLOTHES-OFF CORPSE-ON-CORPSE XXX ORGY OF THE UNDEAD" and "MENU TO INCLUDE UNSHRIVEN KITTENS" on the invitation, is all I'm trying to say.