Spouse: Should we be insulted that Big Kid doesn't want us to attend the academic banquet?
Me: No, it's fine. It's not because he's ashamed of us. In fact, he's not ashamed of us, which is pretty amazing. I actually think he thinks we're pretty okay, all things considered.
Me: I'm 99% sure that he asked us to stay home because a friend's parents couldn't attend, and to encourage his friend to participate, he told the friend that we wouldn't be there, either.
Me: No. I mean, yes, but no, I'm not 99% sure - I'm 100% sure. He didn't say anything to me, and I didn't ask, but I - I kind of just know.
Spouse: It is the sort of thing he is likely to do.
Spouse: He's a really, REALLY good kid.
So Big Kid attended his banquet on his own. I went to a work thing, and Spouse went to Little Kid's choir performance (which Spouse described as "awesomely awful," which made me really sad that I missed it). And, after my work thing, I headed Big Kid's way, and en route he called:
Big Kid: Yo, Mom.
Me: I'm on my way. It's 7:55 in my car, which means it is 7:50 in the real world [the clock in my car is five minutes fast, and we refuse to change it, because where's the fun in having the time of day inside the car match up to the time outside of it?], which means that I will get to you exactly at 8 pm, as per agreement.
Big Kid: Go, you!
Me: I know, right? They aren't trying to kick you out of the building, are they?
Big Kid: No, it's cool. The banquet just ended, and lots of people are still here. [Shouts out to a passing friend and laughs.]
Me: You're very chipper.
Big Kid: There was cake. And Ms. Skelton presented the Whiz Quiz team with a piñata, just because, and I partook in quite a bit of the candy that came out of it, so I'm on a major sugar high at the moment.
Me: Lucky me.
Big Kid: I know, right?
As I pulled into the parking lot, my phone rang again:
Me: I'm here. Where are you?
Big Kid: Still in the gym. I volunteered to help with tear-down.
Me: Okay, I'm turning around by the basketball courts.
Big Kid: I see you now. I wanted to let you know that I propped the door open for you, so you can just come inside once you have parked.
I looked up. Saw my child - smiling and waving at me from the doorway.
I walked across the parking lot. A female friend of Big Kid's called out, in that way that teenage girls are wont to do: "IS THAT YOUR MOM?"
Big Kid nodded.
I waited for the inevitable, "OMG, YOU LOOK JUST LIKE HER!" Instead: "Your son is going to be my wedding coordinator."
Me: Are you getting married imminently?
Big Kid: No. It's an inside joke.
Me: Ah. Well, good call. He would make a great wedding coordinator. Tremendous attention to detail, doesn't take no for an answer.
Both kids smiled.
I passed the remains of the cake - which I knew, without even having to look, must be white with white icing, because otherwise Big Kid wouldn't have accepted a slice. Big Kid only approves of vanilla-flavored things, with extra points awarded for the addition of a good buttercream.
Just like his mom.
I exchanged pleasantries with teachers and parents. Several said that they were sorry that neither Spouse nor I was able to attend, and one teacher who knew of Big Kid's frequent visits to Forgetful Town expressed concern that, perhaps, he had failed to give us the invitation. I blurted out, rather defensively, "Oh, he gave us the invitation, and we would have been happy to attend, but he asked us not to."
Big Kid's head snapped up. Teacher started to open her mouth to take Big Kid to task.
"No, no, it's totally okay. I'm pretty sure that he asked us to stay away because one of his friends was going to be parent-less for the evening, and he didn't want the friend to feel left out."
Big Kid's face split into a grin.
"Two friends, actually."
And then, the grin got, impossibly, wider.
"How did you know?"
He repeated the question when we got into the car. And I answered him.
"Because I made you. So I just do."
"Yeah, that makes sense."
On the ride home, Big Kid did an excellent job of safeguarding the slice of cake that he fetched for my future consumption.
"I knew you would want a piece."
"Vanilla, with buttercream."