Friday, October 16, 2015

The Tricky Birthday Party Question: What Would YOU Do?

In the midst of planning my daughter's 10th birthday party, which means going in to school to lead a craft, orchestrating a family luncheon, AND dealing with all the details to insure that Lily's actual party is a rousing success, I received this email this morning:

Dear Linda,

I hope all is well. Someone just asked me to carpool to Lily's party and I realized that Maggie never got an invite. I assume it was an oversight as the girls have been playing a lot at school. I know Maggie would be upset if she was not there as she enjoyed having Lily at her party in June.


I paused in the midst of a gulp of coffee.

That email unearthed a lot of feelings:

  1. Shock that someone would actually have the NERVE to question why her kid was potentially left off the guest list.
  2. A little bit  of sadness that the kid would be hurt that she hadn't been invited.  Interestingly enough, since she wasn't even on Lily's first invitee list, apparently Lily doesn't consider Maggie a close friend.
  3. The question of whether parties are, in fact, tit-for-tat endeavors.

I posed the question to a friend of mine. He took the “inclusion” line, as in, if you can't invite everyone, don't invite anyone at all. That seems silly, since there's no way in hell I can afford to invite EVERY kid that Lily knows from gymnastics, school, Sunday School, Student Council, etc. If I did that, my kid would never have a party. Inviting her entire class is silly since she doesn't like everyone in her class and, Maggie isn't even in Lily's class. 

Then I asked some friends. They unanimously JUMPED on the “too bad for Maggie – she's going to have to learn she doesn't get invited to EVERY event, won't get EVERY promotion, and will have to learn to deal with disappointment” soap box.  Interesting perspective.

Finally, I asked myself if I would ever send an email like that. 

The answer is “no.” Honestly, I would never have the gall to ask why my child wasn't invited to something!  If my child doesn't get invited to something, that saves me one more present to buy. Lily, in talking about it with her many times, understands that people don't get invited for LOTS of reasons including the fact that some people have family parties without friends invited, many of us have monetary constrains, and sometimes you're just not close friends with people you used to be tight with.

Delilah, being the savvy mom I know she is, is well aware that if you don't get an RSVP for an invitation, you call and/or email the parent for a follow-up. The fact that I didn't contact her told her that Maggie wasn't invited. 

Could I invite one more kid? Our venue set a base number of attendees at 20; if I go above that, the cost increases. Could we pull it off? Sure, but then it wouldn't be fair to all the OTHER kids we didn't invite.

So I took a deep breath and crafted the following response to Delilah:

Dear Delilah:

While Maggie is certainly a close, cherished friend of Lily's, due to a  limited budget, we were unable to invite her. I hope you understand and that the girls can continue to be friends.


Knowing Maggie and Lily, they'll continue to play together. If Maggie brings it up, Lily will explain that we just couldn't invite any more people.

I suspect that Delilah's email was prompted by her own sense that a wrong was committed and that she holds the “we invite you to a party, so you have to invite us” or tit-for-tat view of parties. And perhaps she doesn't want to deal with Maggie's disappointment at not being invited.

Bummer.  It's her issue not mine. 

Disappointment is a part of life that many parents are shielding their kids from. Lily has had to deal with it and now Maggie will be learning a life lesson. As for me, I'm going back to the hustle and bustle of my daughter's “birthday weekend.” 

What would you have done had you received an email like that? Please – let me know!

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