Monday, November 20, 2017

Dear Parents of Kids who Didn't Come to My Kid's Birthday Party

Dear Parents of Kids who Didn't Come to My Kid's Birthday Party,

I've got a problem. It's been bugging me for awhile (for the past 9 or so years since I started hosting the occasional kids birthday party), and I just can't seem to solve it. So, I thought maybe it would help to create a guide to how to RSVP to an invitation.

Before we go any further, did you RSVP that your kid couldn't make it? Yes?  In that case, you don't need to read beyond this paragraph. We appreciate that you RSVP-ed in a timely fashion. It helped with planning to know you wouldn't be able to come. We were sorry to miss you but know people are busy.

What? What's that you say? You forgot to RSVP? I'd like to tell you that's ok. I really would. But, see, your kid told my kid he was coming to the party, and without your RSVP, there is no way for me to know if that's true or not. Sure, I can tell my kid to remind your kid to remind you to RSVP, but really, do you think that's going to happen? If you're someone who forgets to RSVP, somehow I imagine your kid might also have a hard time keeping on top of that kind of thing. And, even if your kid didn't tell my kid they were coming, my kid still believes everyone is coming unless the RSVP tells him otherwise. So, please, just send me a text or an email. It's fine if you can't come. Hell, it's fine if your kid hates my kid. What's not fine is not RSVP-ing. How are we supposed to plan or manage our kid's anticipation if we don't have any idea how many people are coming?

You RSVP-ed "yes" but then found out you couldn't come? That's no big deal. Schedules change all the time. Just let us know; we can adjust. But, you know what's not easy to change? It's not easy to change the fact that my kid's feelings got hurt when you said your kid was coming and she didn't actually come. Sure, I can make excuses about the weather or about people being busy or about people not being good with email, but she saw your kid at her friend's party, so she doesn't buy it. Instead, she believes it's because your kid doesn't like her. And, maybe your kid DOESN'T like her. It happens. Most of us have people we don't like. But, it seems extreme to say yes to an elementary school birthday party invite and then no-show just because your kid doesn't like mine. What? Your kid doesn't hate my kid? Then, why in the world would you break her heart like that? That doesn't make any sense at all!

Look, here's how this works. Someone plans a party, and as part of the planning, they decide who they want to invite and send an invitation to that person. The invitation has a lot of useful information like the date and time of the party and the location. It also has contact information so you can let the person throwing the party know whether or not you can come. If you don't quite know your schedule, you can wait a bit to respond, but really, you should let people know at least a week or so before the party so they can plan. It's okay if you can't come, it happens all the time. Just say so when you RSVP. And, if you RSVP "yes" but then learn you can't come, it is MUCH better to let the host know things have changed. I mean, they will notice that you're not there anyway, so what does it hurt to give them the head's up?

And, of course, if all of this is happening in the context of a child's birthday party, please think about how you would like to have your own child treated (honestly, I can't believe I even have to write that last sentence). Kids LOVE their birthday parties. They talk about who they will and won't invite for months before the party. Sometimes they tell each other these things at school. Sometimes they can be pretty childish about the whole thing. But, you? You're not a child; you're an adult. You have access to a phone, a computer, and a car. If your kid doesn't RSVP or if your kid says they're going to come and then doesn't, it's on you, at least until they're old enough to text/email and/or to drive themselves to the party.

I know you probably think I am overreacting here, but we have thrown many parties over the last 9 years, and elementary school parents are by far the worst at RSVP-ing. I've sent Evites, emails, paper invites, and texts, and I routinely only receive RSVPs from about 50% of the people we invite. And, every party (Every. Single. Party.) we have at least one, and sometimes more than one kid who says they are coming and then doesn't come (and doesn't let us know they're not coming). Have you tried to explain to your kid why only 1 of the 4 people (or 2 of the 6) people who said they were coming didn't come? Because, no matter what you say, all they believe is that the other kids don't like them. And, then, when the go back to school the Monday after the party, they see those kids and they worry about whether they're friends anymore. Even when my kids tell me they don't care about this, they are lying--usually to try to make me feel better since they know how much time and energy we put into getting ready for the party (which is really, really sweet but also heartbreaking in its own way).

So, I don't know. You guys tell me what I'm missing here because in the world I live in, it's proper etiquette to RSVP and standing up a child on his/her birthday is just a shitty thing to do.

Sincerely,

MOE


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