I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Friday, May 2, 2008

Wrapped in Cotton Wool

This is going to get long. Bear with me. (Maybe get a cup of tea first. And some biscuits. Get some for me while you're at it?)

As we are all aware, I'm not all that big on other people's kids (OPK's). I just don't like them all that much, and can list on one hand those kids who I like enough to tolerate for more than 10 minutes (nieces and nephews aside, because they are exempt by virtue of being related to me, and thus fabulous.) The kids are having a birthday party in a few weeks, and I asked them to each nominate 3 friends (other than cousins, etc) they wanted to invite. Lest you think I am being cheap, let me just say that 3x3+3 = 12, which is about as much as I can handle, activity and patience wise. For a 7 year old's birthday party, 12 kids is enough. Bear in mind, the trio go to a small school - their class is only made up of 14 kids. Over the years our kids have mentioned that, of that 14, there are some who they don't get along with, and some who they do. Because, you know, this is perfectly normal - to like some and not others.

So the kids drew up their lists of invitees - and not surprisingly, some of them were not in their grade. Friends from ballet, cousins, family friends, friends in older grades, friends who go to other schools...you get the idea. In the end they (collectively) only chose 5 friends from their grade. FIVE. I was a little disorganised on the invite front, and it was getting late. So I printed a bunch out and stuffed them in my handbag. A couple of days later, we were wandering around at pick up time a bit later than usual. The kids asked if they could give out their invites. I noticed that 3 of the 5 invited kids were around, so I let them pass out the invites.

In doing so, I allegedly committed a crime.

I hurt a kid's feelings.

One kid (one who was not invited) saw the three invites go out. He approached me and asked me what it was about, and I said, "It's for an activity at home." He wanted to know where his envelope was, and I just basically nicely told him that it was a private thing, and that was that. I gathered up my kids and left. A minute later his mother comes running up to me, asking me what "the commotion" was about. DD1, bless her heart, pipes up, "It's our birthday invitations!"

Yeah. BUSTED. Big time.

Long story short the Mom started asking loads of questions about it - date, time, place, etc. I had no choice but to then invite this kid, right? She made the assumption he would be invited, and I totally wimped out and let her believe that. She's had DS over for a lot of play dates...so I freakin' caved in. I assured her that her kid will get his invite the next day. We parted on good terms, but I will admit to feeling really annoyed that I had basically capitulated so easily.

I get home and the phone rings. Said Mom calls to TELL ME OFF for the hurt I have caused her son by not giving him an invitation. She literally tells me how her kid spent the ride home crying and wailing and being upset about what happened. She tells me how she had to promise him a whole bunch of stuff, to make up for the fact that he didn't get an invitation. She tells me how it was rude and inappropriate of me to give the invites out at school...and that she thought it was necessary that she tell me, so that I know what I did wrong. She then goes further to say SHE would NEVER not invite the whole class to her kid's party.

Ummm...yeah. That's why your parties of full of screaming, hysterical, out of control children running around like crazed drug induced maniacs coming off a bad trip. And, here's food for thought, lady - maybe, just maybe, the fact that you give in to your kid's every whim is the reason why he's an out of control, spoiled brat. A brat which my kid doesn't want to have at his party. A brat who my kid ASKED me to please stop sending him over there for play dates because he couldn't stand the noise and the chaos any more.

Clearly, she was trying to piss me off...because then she says, "AS A MOTHER, you should know that when your child feels hurt, YOU feel it too."


This is where, for me, it gets a bit hairy. Did I do the wrong thing by handing out invites publicly? Maybe. Do I really think that this deserved a telling off? No. I am still finding it hard to believe this woman had the balls to do this.

What is this world coming to, that we cannot teach our kids that life is not always fair? Life is full of little disappointments. There will be parties they won't be invited to. Tests they will not pass. Dates they won't enjoy. Food that will smell better than it tastes. Dresses which aren't flattering. Boys who won't like you back. Applications that will be rejected. Dream jobs that will turn out to be horrible. Life isn't always full of blue skies and birds flying by and soft music playing in the background. At the end of the day, her kid will survive not being invited to this party. To put it bluntly: KID, SHIT HAPPENS. I don't understand this modern parenting culture of wrapping kids up in cotton wool...protecting them from every little disappointment.

On the party front, I don't understand why I have to invite kids who my kids DON'T like. Kids who they don't play with or interact with. Kids who have done nothing for my kids other than, you know, exist in the same classroom. There have been times when my kids have not been invited to things - parties, play dates, whatever. This actually happens to us way more than in most families... because someone in their class will invite over only one DD, or just DS. Maybe that's why I believe in the "give it to them straight" philosophy - because it's an issue we've dealt with numerous times. Still, I don't think this mother was doing her kid any favours - she won't be there to cushion the blow of every one of life's disappointments, will she?

Opinions? Are modern parents molly coddling our kids too much? Or should we be preserving their childhoods (because let's face it, childhood is getting shorter and shorter) and protecting them from life's little disappointments? Go on, give it to me straight.


Laura said...

OMG, you HURT her kids feelings? lmao. Sounds like they both are spoiled brats.

Cameron said...

Okay Emzee, I'll give it to you straight: mom is over the top, but you and your children did violate accepted birthday party protocol.

Yes, it sounds like that lady's child is a bit of a brat and she gives into his whims. Her calling to chew you out was a bit excessive and beyond the boundaries of politeness. The underlying principle behind manners is that they are designed to help those around us feel comfortable. Publicly excluding uninvited children is impolite, but no more so than calling someone and laying a big guilt trip on them when a more discreet and diplomatic approach would have been more appropriate.

Anonymous said...

I actually had this happen to me growing up. It is absolutely impolite to hand out invitations in front of people who are not invited. The best solution? Either mail these invites out, call people up, or privately give them out.

On the other hand, this woman sounds absolutely CRAZY!

I hope the birthday party is a blast!

Alice said...

I think that your actions were fine Emzeegee and I agree with everything you said and did. The crazy woman is not setting a good example to her child and she is encouraging him to be brat. Plus, she isn't even considering your situation - when you have a child's birthday party you are having a party for 3 birthday kids; she is only having to have a party for one kid. Stands to reason that her child can invite more of his friends. Alice

the baker's wife said...

Who makes up the party protocol shit? WTF is the difference between seeing an invitation you won't be getting or hearing all about a party you're not invited to? The issue is still 'you're not invited,'. Parents who believe their child is/should be loved by everyone are deluding themselves and damaging their child. I agree with you MZ, tell them plainly (with compassion, if it is an issue) and move on.

I was not invited to a party in grade one, and actually I was relieved, since I didn't like the kid anyway.

Plus, did the mother even think that perhaps it was 4pm and the kid was tired, grumpy and worn out, so anything would have made him cry all the way home in the car? Whatever happened to distract,divert and delay? Toddler training applies through to adulthood, you know.

And when I was a kid I was taught it wasn't manners to speak so freely to adults as well. While I'm no advocate of 'seen and not heard', this kid and his incessant probing (like that of his mother) was way out of line.

Now send that mother your blog address and a pretty invitation to participate.

the baker's wife said...

PS- you must direct people to the source of that photo. I read the original article that went with it and it's hilarious. It really splits parents, just like your invitation fiasco.

Do you know about it? A photographer took all these photos of kids who'd just had their lollypop taken off them. The drama on their faces is priceless. But the issue was is it ethical to do this for the sake of art.

emzeegee & the hungry three said...

Hi All,

While I agree that I didn't pick the best option, at the same time we were there well after school ended. With so few people around I figured I was "safer" than if I was giving them out at full on drop off/pick up time. Still, I could have probably should have been more discreet. I agree with TBW that it doesn't matter if he saw it or heard about it, bottom line is he wasn't going to be invited.

I also think that alice is right - with 3 kids to accommodate in one birthday party, there have to be SOME concessions, and for me that was limiting the invite list.

Thanks, all, for your honesty - much appreciated!


PS TBW, didn't see the article...forward? Sound hilarious!!

bunchesmcginty said...

I LOVE that photo.