What has happened to our manners? This isn't the first time that I have asked this question. Sadly, it is something that concerns me a lot lately when I am constantly faced with situations in the car or out of it, where a certain amount of patience or an ability to acknowledge or apologise would go a very long way. Recently though, I have noticed a new breed of rudeness; one where parents think that it is acceptable to ignore party invitations and I find this outrageously rude as well as being pretty unfair.
We are all busy. As parents, we all have too much to do and too little time to do it in and the demands of modern parenting mean that most children do have more than their fair share of party invitations. But that is no excuse not to respond. There are exceptions of course. some children lose the invitations before they get home or scrunch them up in some unrecognisable form at the bottom of their bags. There are times, when there is a lot going on and you may forget. However, natural emergency aside, there really aren't that many other excuses, are there?
It might be that perhaps the parent of the birthday child isn't really your cup of tea or not in your 'social' circle at the school gate. Maybe your child doesn't particularly like the child in question. That happens. You don't have to ignore the invitation, it is perfectly reasonable to say no. These days, you don't often even have to physically respond. Most parents put mobile phone numbers on the invitations, so a simple text message would do. Better than nothing certainly.
Over the last couple of years, we have organised parties for both R and L and leading up to all of those parties, I have become increasingly frustrated by the fact that some parents have failed to respond. Parents that can stand next to you in the playground, who can smile and say 'hello', but who can't be bothered to say 'thanks for the invitation..; would love to come/can't come'. OK, as the organising parent, you could rally round and ask people to try and finalise numbers, but why should you! It's a party for children, not some compulsory military activity. Last summer, we organised a disco for L and he didn't want to invite many children and so a week or so before, I was starting to get a little worried as we had only had about six replies. So I did start asking people, but this didn't sit well with me as I then felt like I was begging people to come. Most people were fine and seemingly had forgotten. One mum looked at me like I was completely insane and told me that her daughter was busy. Well why did she not tell me that earlier?
Recently, I have heard and been told of parties where very few and in one case no children arrived at the party. If that was me I would be horrified, really horrified. In all of the cases, very few of the parents of the children invited had bothered to respond and then you are left in limbo as they may or may not come. Apart from the fact that parties are quite costly, what about the poor children whose party it is. What a blow to their self esteem would it be if only a couple children came to their party or even worse no-one at all? Birthday parties are meant to be fun, happy times and every child deserves that don't they?
I must admit that I have now decided that birthday 'parties' will consist of an outing to the cinema or something similar with a couple of the boys' close friends as I know the parents and it makes the organisation process a lot easier. A is now at play group and so the party invitations are starting to come thick and fast for her. She wants a party in December for her third birthday, but I am putting it off until next year to avoid any undue stress. If I do get invitations from others, however, I try and reply straight away; whether it is a yes or a no as for me, however busy I might be, it is simple good manners.