My Birthday Party Planning Days Are Officially Over

Birthday partyI’ve just gotta vent, y’all. Am I the only person who thinks it’s disrespectful when you invite someone to a party and they don’t even bother telling you when their plans change and they can no longer make it? I’m sitting over here irked, not because it’s my shindig per se but because it’s for my daughter.

And you know when someone messes with your kid, inadvertently or intentionally, that special part of your brain goes into effect that turns a normally mild-mannered mother into an attitude-wielding lioness. Grrrr.

Picture it with me: I envisioned a beautiful, sort of rites-of-passage dinner as part of Tween (now Teen) girl’s 13th birthday celebration. In my head, it was going to be a lovefest made up of all the women who’ve had an impact or sowed into her life: ladies from our church, her aunts and grandmothers and cousins, friends of the family, her godmother, even two of her elementary school teachers.

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Everyone thought it was a lovely idea and right off the bat, a couple of people told me they couldn’t make it. That was fine. How can you be mad at an early heads up on this idea? Then more cancellations started rolling in and what started out as a guest list of 21 has now been whittled down to a grand total of 7. And that’s cool — for the people who let me know they can’t make it. But when folks don’t bother to shoot you a holler and say they won’t be there, that’s when my blood starts to curdle.

Between Facebook, Twitter, text message, Skype, cell phone, landline, email, and IM — heck, dust off your passenger pigeon if you have to — there’s no reason why defunct guests aren’t able to give a heads up if they can’t make it. It’s not only that it throws off the head count for cake and food and that kind of stuff. It does. But the expectation that they’ll be there to celebrate a kid’s birthday is dashed when they don’t bother to communicate. Especially on a small guest list. Especially when they’ve known for a while that they have no intention whatsoever of being there.

What’s funny is, I said I was taking a break from throwing shindigs with kids because it was too much of a headache dealing with their parents. One year, I forgot to get one father’s contact phone number and, even though he was my next door neighbor, he hauled off and left for more than ten hours. Sleepover was over at 3; this sucka didn’t show up again until well after 10 at night. I all but had the cops and Child Protective Services on speed dial before he sauntered home, full of smiles and apologies for being “a little late.”

That was like strike #4,985 against birthday parties with kids.

Factor in all the headaches of picking up, dropping off, potential abandoned child situations, and the always classic kid-who-shows-up-without-any-money fiasco and I was ready to take a breather from the kiddie party circuit. I thought — perhaps foolishly — that having a dinner with adult women would run a little more smoothly. Well then, chalk this up as a lesson learned. Who knew party planning could spark so many valuable teachings?

All I know is this: I feel a mother-daughter vacation coming up for next year. Far, far away. In the meantime, it was therapeutic to write this. Now I feel like I can return to my normal, semi-civilized behavior and be a gracious hostess… for the last time until her Sweet 16. Let these next three years crawl by nice and slow. Amen.

What stresses you out about throwing kiddie birthday throwdowns?


Image via join the dots/Flickr

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