Although I would never have the chutzpah to do such a thing, on some level I actually commend the family who sent an invoice to the parents of a kid who said he would attend a birthday party and then failed to show up. I know this won’t be a popular opinion but the lack of respect that people have for one another these days is so commonplace and so unacceptable.
When I was a kid, birthday parties took place in our living rooms or backyards if weather permitted. You invited a few friends, not the entire class, for food and games. The most popular game was “Pin The Tail On the Donkey.” You didn’t have to take out a second mortgage to pay for it. Parents RSVP’d and kids actually showed up.
Birthday parties are a completely different kettle of bananas these days. Parents feel compelled to invite the entire class of 30 kids and feel obligated to provide them with expensive entertainment such as Laser Tag, Jump Zone or Chuck E. Cheese, not to mention sending them home with goodie bags. I understand that it is much easier because there is no clean up and usually no food preparation required. When you are paying $20-$30 per kid, you expect parents to RSVP and if he says he will come, he had damn well better turn up, present in hand, on party day.
Apparently, common courtesy and decency is no longer the done thing these days. I experienced this first hand when I had a birthday party for my then 11 year old son at Laser Tag. We invited 13 kids, anticipating that most of them would come. Why wouldn’t you want a freebie for your kid to play Laser Tag and to get rid of him for the afternoon?
I did everything I should have done, the overachiever that I am…I sent out written invitations a full 2 weeks before the event. Then I waited for parents to call me…and nothing. I was still waiting for responses and it was getting closer and closer to party day. I was starting to stress. I told my son to ask individual kids if they were coming. There were some kids who said yes and then a few days later said they couldn’t come. There was another kid who said maybe and was never heard from again. It was shocking to me. By the day of the party, I had no idea how many kids would turn up. That makes it difficult on so many levels, including knowing how much food to make. We cooked our own food and brought it. 8 kids turned up which was the minimum number required for the birthday party package deal. It turned out alright but it was very stressful and unnecessarily so.
I told my son that I would never do this again and he seemed to realize how upset I was and how rude these parents and kids were. I have kept my word and he has never asked me to throw another big, expensive party for him. For the last 3 years, he has just invited 2-3 friends to come to our house for pizza, cake and ice cream. The entertainment is playing video games. That’s what teenage boys love to do these days.
And don’t even get me started on goodie bags. So, let me get this straight…you pay for a party which includes an expensive activity, lots of sugary foods and then you send each kid home with a bunch of crappy dollar toys and more sugar??? I did the goodie bags thing once when my son was a year old and it was our first party and I was new at it. I never did it again after deciding that I didn’t want my own kid receiving a goodie bag. How did we all get here, anyway?
So, I can understand that these parents were so miffed that they had to pay for a kid who didn’t turn up, that they reacted by sending them an invoice. I know it was an obnoxious response, but so were the actions of the family whose kid failed to show up.
What are your thoughts on this? Have you experienced a similar situation as a parent?
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