If you want more luck, show up more often*

I know that the first step to accomplishing any goal is showing-up.

If I want to make more friends in Miami I need to take advantage of every opportunity to meet new people. I’ve got to show-up, even if I don’t feel like it.

That is what I did last week to honor my pledge of trying one thing per week to meet a new friend in Miami (see friendship challenge here). I went to 2 kids birthday parties even though I didn’t have to go.

SIDEBAR: It is my experience that most adults do not like children’s birthday parties, especially when the children are not their own. I bet at least 95% of you understand this, but for the small minority that might not have children yet and look forward to other children’s birthday parties, like I once did, let me explain (1) most adults can think of something they would rather be doing on a Saturday afternoon and often wear this emotion on their sleeve; (2) it is not that fun to watch children play hide and seek or pin-the-tail on the donkey unless you have a glass of wine, and some parents do not serve wine; and (3) your friends will work hard to find ways not to attend these parties and often will not be there.   I can’t tell you how many times I have been stuck holding a pink balloon searching for ways to make conversation with a nanny I’ve never met or a guilt ridden husband who works 60 hours a week and  his designated dad duty is to chaperone his children at all birthday parties.

In Dallas, by the time the kids were about 5, we started having “drop-off” parties. You literally drop the kids at the front door and leave. As a hostess, you had to be careful to only invite the amount of kids that you could handle. Recently 3 friends in Dallas invited all of the first grade girls at school to a joint cowgirl party at the local stables. My friend explained that the 6-year-olds had a blast but said it was a little hard to manage 63 girls and ponies once their parents “dropped” them at the barn gates.  That will not happen to you in Miami.

It did not take long for me to figure-out that drop-off parties did not exist in the Magic City.  Six weeks after we arrived I copied a cute party my son had been to in Dallas and invited his entire Miami second grade class to the park for a kickball game. Our plan was for my husband to man the mound and me the picnic benches with hotdogs,  juice boxes and cake. As I started receiving RSVPs I realized entire families were heading to the park that Martin Luther King Day. I ran to the store for OJ and champagne (Mimosas are the best solution for pre-noon kid parties) and grabbed some “fancy nuts” and everyone seemed to have a decent time.

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Last weekend I had an excuse not to go to the roller-skating rink or the luau to which we were invited: a childless good friend from Dallas was flying in to celebrate her birthday and even in Miami these circumstances disqualify you from the obligation of “showing-up” at that weekend’s children festivities. Two other parents agreed to take my kids to each party.

At the last minute, my friend’s plans changed. She had to postpone her trip. When I reviewed my calendar (another school year resolution of mine: use calendar) to see how that effected our weekend plans I realized: I COULD STILL SEND THE KIDS TO THE PARTIES WITH THE OTHER PARENTS AND WOULDN’T HAVE TO DIG OUT MY FLORAL SHIRT OR ROLLER SKATES. Score!

But it hit me, there would be adults there with whom I am not yet friends. In fact I was not friends with any of the adults that would be at these parties and really, how hard would it be to “show-up” then check-off the first week of my friendship challenge as done. The opportunity was really too good to pass up.

So I went… and I tried. Showing-up, to me means both in mind and spirit so I forced myself to “work the room” as best as I could and talk to as many parents as possible.

And do you know what?  It paid off.  I added a name to my potential friend list.  The neighbor of the 6-year-old luau honoree was in my 4-year-old daughter’s class last year (was that clear?). At another party I had really enjoyed talking to this neighbor family  and was able to easily engage both parents, Laura and Lee, in conversation again. Laura and I had exchanged phone numbers at the end of preK-3 but neither of us followed through on the play date that we both said could be fun.

But, just as I hoped it would, my declaration of my search for friends propelled me into texting Laura and inviting she and her family over for dinner and a swim. And after a little back and forth we found a date that worked for both of us and voila we are hosting our first family dinner party since we moved to town.  I showed-up and made it happen, and I would call that a success.

Note to fellow new-Miamians: I do not completely have this birthday party thing figured out. I can definitely tell you that you should not ever assume that you should drop your child at someone’s home without a chaperone.  It is not yet clear to me, however,  when the rest of the family is supposed to be there. If there is a clue written on the invitation as to expected guests, I have not found it. I have done both: shown up with just the invitee and wished that my husband and the rest of the clan were there, (because all of the other guests had complete family units and I wished my hubby was there so I had someone to talk to).   AND, I have  dragged brought my husband and son with me to the party and then neither would talk to me because they were the only males there in the pretty pink party room.

*This is part of a quote from an American Talk Show Host Brian Tracy.

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