It is a rare pleasure to attend a ''Muffin Social.'' But first, you have to be a grandparent. My invitation was delivered by my granddaughter early enough one spring so that there would be little chance of any conflicts on that date.
It was a two-page affair with a delightful drawing of a tulip on the cover, upon which was superimposed a delicious-looking muffin. The invitation, written in very careful second-grade script, read: ''Dear Grammy, We would like to invite you to our Muffin Social. First we will entertain you and then we will enjoy muffins and juice together. Please RSVP by May 13 and wear your room No. momento, which is enclosed.''
Any of the children whose grandparents lived out of state were represented most willingly by grandmothers and grand- fathers recruited from the ranks of retirement homes or by neighbors and residents whose own grandchildren lived far away.
We were ushered, upon arrival, into the small auditorium. Promptly, the boys and girls filed onto the stage and arranged themselves in rows, the tallest standing at the back.
Grandparents immediately began to look for their little ones. Many stood up and waved wildly, even more flashed cameras. The entertainers, however, behaved quite professionally and few acknowledged the audience's enthusiasm. I think they were overwhelmed by the unabashed show of affection.
The program was a medley of songs. Judging by the lips I saw moving quietly around me, some were old favorites. A few of the selections seemed to have been chosen expressly for the benefit of the boys and girls who found it hard to hold a tune, but who were easily trained to clap their hands, wave their arms, or stamp their feet at the right moment.
At the end, amid cheers and much clapping, the performers walked off the stage and up the middle aisle, back to their rooms. I had been privy to many discussions between my granddaughter and her mother on the sensitive subject of the appropriate attire for this momentous occasion. As is so often the case with young ladies of that age, suitable things to wear, in their eyes, tend toward ruffles and furbelows in bright, even lurid colors. But I was not at all prepared for the variety of outfits and even the astonishing ensembles of some of the boys and girls.
One girl, who stood head and shoulders above her classmates, was attired in a pink satin dress. Another little girl had apparently convinced her parents that her First Communion dress was de rigueur for this day. But privately, I wondered if they knew that the child had added wrist-length white lace gloves.
Most of the children looked clean and neat, if a bit uncomfortable all dressed up. One of the last youngsters to come down the aisle managed somehow to avoid all the strictures that I know had been sent home regarding the children's clothes. From the top of his tousled head to his wild T-shirt, very faded jeans, and his deliberately unlaced Reeboks, he was the epitome of the ''studied casual'' look.
It was now time to go to the classrooms, where we were each met by our respective grandchildren and led to their desks, seated on their minuscule chairs, and served a muffin, a cup of juice, and a napkin. We were also shown their best papers and generally engaged in the ''social'' part of the occasion.
All of the students had been instructed carefully in the etiquette of this party and we were, at no time, left to our own devices. I found my granddaughter watching over me very carefully as I ate the muffin and drank the juice. As soon as I had finished, the cup, plate, and napkin were taken and disposed of in the trash.
Before we left, we were invited to walk about the room to inspect various displays and see what projects were being worked on.
As soon as my grandchild sensed that I had had all I wanted for refreshment and had looked over everything that she deemed important in her classroom, she very politely thanked me for coming to her party and walked me to the door!
All of us were touched by the invitation and commented on the well-thought-out program and the ability of the children who sang all the songs from memory.
Walking in the peaceful, clear, bright spring sunshine back to my car, I felt grateful for the blessings of the day, and I thought about grandparents thousands of miles away from this quiet town. I hoped that in Bosnia, Chechnya, Somalia, Rwanda, and all the other countries of the world ravaged by strife of one kind or another, grandchildren would have a chance to invite their grandmothers or grandfathers to a Muffin Social
I was, and I continue to be, grateful.