“They were all wearing the exact same t-shirt,” Dylan says, sounding stressed. Tears well up in his eyes.
“Was it a kind of special dress-up day?” Heather says nervously. Last year she’d forgotten to remind the kids about facial hair day.
“No,” Dylan says, dropping his Spiderman backpack onto the floor. “They got the shirts from Jacob’s birthday party. Everyone was invited but me!”
Heather wonders why anyone would give away t-shirts at a birthday party. And then remembers that she’s living in Pacific Palisades. Last year, Kaitlin attended a friend’s sixth birthday where she was treated to a 20 minute head massage, manicure, pedicure and make up application. Heather hadn’t spent an afternoon like that since 1997.
“He couldn’t have invited everyone in the class,” Heather says, thinking Dylan is exaggerating. She puts her arms around him. Being excluded doesn’t feel good. “You never play with Jacob anyway,” she says and kisses Dylan’s sweaty forehead.
“But neither does A.J, Sam, Dylan H., Zack A., Walter, Max, Mickey, Jacob S., Ryder, Axel or Henry P.” Dylan said. “And, they were all invited! They wore those stupid shirts with a football on the front “JACOB’S 9th SUPERBOWL BIRTHDAY BASH.”
“Who wasn’t wearing one?” Heather asks, thinking no parent would allow their child to just leave out a small handful of boys from an entire class.
“Me, Zack K., Mike, and Harvey,” Dylan says and wipes his nose on his shirtsleeve.
Heather doesn’t really know Jacob’s mother but she’d always seemed pleasant and smiled often. Heather thinks about the list of boys that were left out. Nice, smart, friendly, fun loving and… all totally uncoordinated. Were Jacob’s mother’s smiles condescending?
“I’ll call AJ’s mom,” Heather says. “I’m sure there’s been some kind of mistake.” Could Jacob’s mother be some kind of… monster? Heather’s hand shakes as she dials. Unfortunately, an awkward conversation confirms Dylan’s story.
“I didn’t realize those four boys were left out until the party was over,” AJ’s mom says. “I’d asked Jacob’s mom about it and she said “she allowed Jacob to make his guest list. It was his party and he was old enough to make his own decisions now.”
“Old enough to be a complete asshole,” is what Heather wants to say. Instead she mutters, “I’ll call you back.”
Heather tries to compose herself. She’d like to say that Jacob is being raised by a pack of wolves. She’d like to call his mother the sorts of names that she can’t say to her 9 year old. But wouldn’t that make her equally awful? Instead, she lies.
“I think we had a problem with his evite,” Heather says feigning optimism.
“I’ll deal with it tomorrow. Why don’t you fix yourself a big bowl of ice cream and watch TV for awhile.” She fakes a smile.
The promise of this mind numbing comfort seems to work. Dylan heads for the kitchen. Heather breaks into a sweat. She paces the house and picks up Ava’s toys. Her three children are laughing and watching TV. It seems that Dylan is feeling better. But, now she’s lied. He deserves better, she thinks.
Heather walks back into the family room, picks up the remote from the coffee table and pauses Phineas and Ferb.
The children look annoyed.
“Dylan,” she says, clears her throat and tries to stay calm. “You were right. Jacob did leave you and those other boys out of his party.”
“Jacob is a jerk,” Kaitlin says, sitting next to Dylan on the sofa.
Heather wants desperately to agree. Instead she says, “What he and his family chose to do is inconsiderate and hurtful. I don’t agree with it and I’m also upset.”
Dylan looks up at her from the sofa. His big blue eyes look so sweet and vulnerable. She wishes that she could protect him from every injustice for the rest of his life. “Can you hit play?” he says. “ This is my favorite episode.”
Heather presses the button and the show resumes. He and his sisters laugh at the TV.
Heather walks into the kitchen and stares at a leftover pile of dirty dishes in the sink. Maybe scrubbing might help her calm down? She is so upset. She thinks about calling Erin and meeting for yoga in the morning. It could help. But mostly, she thinks of calling Jacob’s mother and asking her to meet behind Sav-On afterschool tomorrow. What she’d really like to do is to kick her ass.
Don’t miss chapters one through nineteen!
Note: The ModernMom Chronicles is a completely fictional novel. The story is not a personal blog, nor is it based on existing people or families