Monday, 3 May 2010

It's my party and I'll rant if I want to....

As mentioned in previous posts, I've never been one for big birthday parties for tiny children. It all seems a lot of money and work for something they won't really appreciate, and mine have always been happy with a few friends and family coming over for tea and cake.

Nevertheless, Littleboy 1 has been invited to a number of birthday bashes here by children in his class, and I felt maybe we should reciprocate. Five is also a pretty major birthday, plus he's much more aware now about his birthday and I knew he would definitely enjoy a bigger party.

The problem was where to have it. Our house is pretty small, and the idea of fifteen or so five year old boys rampaging around it was not exactly appealing. Nor is the changeable Long Island spring weather reliable enough to hold it outside; this weekend was beautiful, with temperatures around 30 degrees celsius, but today is pouring with rain and thundery.

I decided, therefore, to hold it in a local gymnastics centre, which provides sports and games and pizza for the kids. It would be by far the most expensive party we've ever given, but I thought it would be worth it for Littleboy1 if his preschool friends could come.

I found a suitable time when the place was free - 4pm on a Sunday, when I thought most people would be around. I did notice as I booked it that it fell on US Mother's Day - the 9th of May - but, that date also being my wedding anniversary, my thoughts were more along the lines of 'oh well, won't be going out for an anniversary meal on the day this year' than worrying about that.

So now....two weeks after sending out the invitations. Out of the 14 boys invited, half the parents have yet to reply. At least two have turned down the invitation 'because it is Mother's Day'. I've managed to rustle up another friend's son, so we are now up to 8, but I have paid for a party for 12 kids, so 12 I am going to have to have, dammit.

I have spent the morning phoning up people on the class list to chase them. I left six answerphone messages, and got through to one father, who rather grumpily (I thought) asked "Is it Mother's Day?'" and when I replied, "Er, yes," said: "He won't be able to come." No "sorry, we didn't get back to you earlier" (the invtation had stated RSVP by last Friday); no "thanks for the invitation".

Now, I don't know if I'm just being unrealistic, but isn't that just bloody rude? I know people are busy, I know people forget, but for half the people not to reply? These are, after all, the same crowd who turned up to the class show VERY early, all organised with their cupcakes and everything. They are obviously not total ditzes.

And, if you have forgotten, surely an apology is in order?

The other point is about Mother's Day - is it really such a faux pas to have organised a kid's birthday party at 4pm on Mother's Day? This never would have occurred to me in the UK. And, as The Doctor says, there's some kind of holiday/celebration almost every weekend here, so you'd be hard pressed to find a weekend when there wasn't something going on......

OK rant over. I'm tired (no-one slept last night due to the heat), I was icing cupcakes to take to preschool at 7am this morning, and ...oh wait.

Someone just did phone back. And apologise for not having replied earlier. And say thanks for the invitation.

The world is not all bad.

27 comments:

Iota said...

I think Mother's Day is very sacrosanct here. Most families go out for lunch (though I'd have thought a party at 4.00pm took account of that).

A friend of my daughter had her 6th birthday at Chuck E Cheese. She invited the whole class. Only one boy turned up, and about half the girls. Out of a class of 26, there were 8 or 9 kids. The parents had had hardly any RSVPs.

It is odd, since most of us are on the other side of the fence (ie the party-giver) at some point, so know how important it is to RSVP.

Nicola said...

I have had very similar experiences with organising the boy's birthday parties. This year one of Captain Underpants best friends couldn't make it because it was the same time as his soccer practice. Heaven forbid he miss it to attend his best friend's birthday. There was no apology - and this is from a mum I am good friends with. I sent invitations via evite last year so I could send umpteen reminder emails at the touch of a button to hassle people. There were still 3 children whose parents never bothered to respond. And of course they didn't show up.

As for the apology thing - most Americans don't tend to apologise. They are not intentionally trying to be rude, it is just not customary here. I find it is similar to the way they issue commands rather than requests. In a coffee shop I will always use 'please' and 'thank you' when ordering a coffee. Most Americans think this is bizarre. They don't see a need to 'request' the service - "I'll take a double half caf skinny wet latte". It comes across to me as arrogance to dismiss the niceties - it's such a different culture in this respect I think.

Potty Mummy said...

I know just what you're talking about NVG - and it drives me crazy too. Don't know the answer though (although Nicola's e-vite is a pretty good compromise...)

MuddynoSugar said...

I get so cross when people don't RSVP. I have had it for kids parties, but for my wedding too. Half my family are Irish, I got phone calls the night before saying they were on a plane on the way over - All I could think about was my seating plan...Grrr

Expat mum said...

Since I've just come over from PM's blog - This is America. (TIA from now on.)
I used to think I was so unpopular that no one bothered to RSVP, but it's everywhere. These days I mostly get e-vites, as Nic mentioned, and they blast you with a reminder on a daily basis it seems.
The worst thing about the ones who don't ever respond is that you can't guarantee the kid won't turn up to the party, so you have to provide enough cake/pizza and bloody goody bag. Last time this happened to me I said to the parent "Oh I didn't think you were coming" and she replied, "Whatever made you think that?" Pah.

nappy valley girl said...

Iota - it's such a good point, some of these parents have had parties themselves so you would have thought they would know from experience....and yes, you'd have thought a Mother's Day lunch might be over by 4.

Nicola - I am glad to hear it's not just me. Sorry about Captain Underpants' BF - must have been disappointing for both boys. As for non-apologies, well some of them DID apologise, so it just goes to show it can be done.....

PM - so was it just as bad in London? We never had a big party there, so I just don't know.

MuddynoSugar - the wedding no RSVPs must have been infurating! Mind you we did get a great auntie's sister crashing ours...when she hadn't even been invited!

ExpatMum - all your comments are making me feel much better. I was beginning to think maybe they were shunning me for being English or for having the gall to hold it on Mother's Day! Also, I will be furious if the non-replies show on the day, because I will try to invite others to make it up to 12 - but if they do come, I'll end up paying extra for them.

London City Mum said...

Urgh - hate children's parties! Am not alone as have since been told by my mother that she was the same, so must be in the genes.

After Mr Man's 5th (joint with best friend) party I swore NO MORE. EVER. And then told him that when you turn 6 you have much more fun by inviting a select number (ie 4) friends to the cinema and going for pizza afterwards.

He bought it when in answer to his "What's a cinema?" question I told him it was like TV, only much bigger.

Yes, I know, cruel mother, and deprived children of mine. But I do always RSVP other invites. How rude not to, in any language.

LCM x

Almost American said...

LOL! I just used Mother's Day as an excuse to get out of something! Turned up at swim practice last night to find out they're having a car wash and bake sale on Mother's Day from 10 till 2, and I'm expected to bake AND then be there to sell. On less than a week's notice? Fuhgeddaboutit!

That is rude of the parents not to even bother replying! Hope you get 12 kids! (Invite younger siblings if need be - we've done that in the past!)

Belgravia wife - sort of said...

Hi there sorry to hear that this was so gruesome - just try to remember the reason we do so many of these gruesome things is that we will do anything to make our children happy including a tricky Mother's days party. Hope you all had fun xx

Calif Lorna said...

I had absolutely no RSVPs for my son's party - it drove me crazy! All the moms kept turning up saying 'sorry, we didn't rsvp' and I very politely replied 'we're just glad you could make it!'

I've been rsvping to all the parties my boys have been invited too - the parents must wonder what on earth I'm doing!

And yes, I can't believe you've organised something on Mother's Day!!!! The whole country will shut down to worship their moms. What a pity that won't be happening in our house though!

Good luck on Sunday!

Tanya (Bump2Basics) said...

No one RSVPs - madness! Long Islander I may be but we always sent RSVPs when I was growing up. I had no idea that we're now supposed to be mind readers.

As for Mother's Day, I do think that some American families celebrate it as a family day but others might just sent mom out for a massage or if it was my house, we'd give my mom a card and some flowers and try to behave. July 4th is also celebrated as a family day by some but people still have parties and get married then.

Mud in the City said...

Not rsvp-ing is rude. Unfair to add that extra stress when you are kind enough to invite them! But people don't seem to feel it is necessary these days. The samegoes for saying thanks after a party.

Or maybe I'm just having a "when I was young" moment!

Anonymous said...

Yes they are rude for not RSVP'ing but a party on Mothers Day???? Hmmmm. Yep I know it is a holiday for various reasons best forgotten by some but truly not most. I like the younger siblings idea. Hope you get your 12.

Fourdownmumtogo said...

People are rude the world over. I have always held big parties for Jacob, partly because they were always joint birthdays with Max, whose birthday is two weeks earlier and partly as an excuse not to have them at home with all the attendant chaos.

However from a class of 30 I would say there is always a non-RSVP rate of at least 10, some of whom roll up on the day and some of whom don't. Now I just work on the basis that I will get in the region of 20-25 kids and work out the food/goody bags accordingly. T

Mwa said...

School politics - seem to be horrible the world over. I have decided I can't get it right anyway, so I may as well stop worrying about it. Bloody parents!

nappy valley girl said...

LCM - I just wish it was all simpler, as when I grew up. You had a few friends around and played pass the parcel. Everyone was happy. But clearly I am harking back to a bygone era....

Almost American - a car wash and bake sale all Sunday sounds too much anyway, Mother's Day or not!

Belgravia Wife - you're absolutely right. These are all sacrifices we make for our children's happiness and they will never know the stress it causes us.....

CalifLorna - No rsvps, that's terrible. I never knew that this would be the case - clearly I am naive. I always try to reply straight away when I recieve the invite - otherwise I might forget. They must think I'm a completely anal foreigner....

Tanya - sounds like it's a generational thing, everyone always RSVPd when I was growing up too. (You might think mothers would be pleased if their kids could go off to party on MD -give them some time to themselves!)

Mud - I know, it's terrible, the manners of these young folk....

Anonymous - I think there must be a big difference between UK and US Mother's Day. When I was growing up the most we ever did was give my Mum a card and maybe some flowers. It certainly did not mean the whole day was reserved. However, of course I don't mind if people can't make it because they are doing something special, but I would at least like to be told!

Fourdownmumtogo - So do you chase people up? I wasn't going to but then another (British) person here told me that people often ring up to chase.....mind you, even after being chased 3 people still have not called back.

Mwa - I feel like that too. But it still seems to stress me out....

http://reluctantmemsahib.wordpress.com said...

i bet if they lived where i lived they'd all reply with alacrity. can i come. bring hat. drink wine. and stay til i get thrown out?

nappy valley girl said...

RM - oh do come! Especially if wine is involved. I'm sure Hat would love jumping on trampolines....

PantsWithNames said...

I'll come, bring my boys and stay with Reluctant Memsahib until we are thrown out in disgrace.

Must address the 5th birthday party issue, hoping I can avoid it all by pretending it is not going to happen is not a valid tactic. x

Paradise Lost In Translation said...

same thing happene t o me this last week for my daughter's bday party. In Albania, but American classmates....It was also a long w/e & there was a massive demo in the centre of town so people were being told not to travel aorund. we managed 7 in the end, but that included her 7 her brother & I drafted in 2 older friends too at the last min!

NFAH said...

It depends on the family but when I was growing up we had both grandmothers in the area as well, so Mother's day had to be like Christmas with something for mother and each of the grannies, so it really was an all day affair (esp. considering we couldn't start until after church...) so we would never have been able to go to a 4 pm party... but we were probably unusual. I don't know what the rest of them have as excuses!

mothership said...

Mother's Day is like Christmas here, possibly more holy, so that might be a bit of an issue. However the RSVP thing - that is absolutely par for the course. It drives me crazy, too. SO RUDE.
Five is turning six in two weeks and I have invited 10 kids, only one of whom has actually bothered to respond. I will be grimly chasing the others for a reply next week.
Mind you, it might be catching. We forgot to RSVP to a party for Two the other week until the night before and Husband gamely phoned up and confessed our sloppy manners and they were very nice and relaxed about it.

nappy valley girl said...

Pants with Names - would love to have you. As for the 5th birthday, well let's just say that getting a Spencer the Engine model on his birthday morning was probably more exciting than the party is going to be....

Paradise Lost - I am busy drafting in other friends' children....glad to see it happens the world over.

NFAH - well it is noticeable that those who replied early were non-Americans, so maybe it's because everyone else has relatives to visit?

Mothership - At least you apologised! I am determined not to acquire this particular disease - however these things are catching. My husband confessed the other day that he never bothers to be on time any more for meetings here, because no-one else ever is...

Lisa L said...

if you think young kids' parties are bad...wait till the teen years! omg...i gave exactly one teenage party, and that was that. not only did the invited kids come, but kids (and young adults!) from all over the island showed up. booze was snuck in, furniture broken, the house was trashed before i knew it. finally we got everyone to leave, woke the next morning and found our cul de sac littered with empties and other assorted trash. embarrassing much? that was it for me...

nappy valley girl said...

Lisa - what a terrifying tale. I think I'll stick to taking them out for a pizza when they get to that age.....

Anonymous said...

I just had a 16th birthday party for my son, and like you, very few of the kids or their parents RSVPed. Worse yet, the kids were given email options,Im options to respond and since they are mostly sixteen, you think they could let us know themselves.

One boy who did respond said he could not attend because he had other "priorities". I am hoping he meant plans.


Very frustrating.

Corina said...

Not RSVP'ng is rude....out here in the Jersey they aren't too bad. The pre school set are all very prompt and I have to say that Facebook helps. However I have to admit that sometimes I have been chased for a response for my older child. The thing is the invitations get less formal (and strangely seem handmade without supervision) so I'm not really sure sometimes if the party is legit! And I get more muddled as I get older. And I'm really old!

Hope your Mother's Day turns out fine with a happy birthday boy!