Today I went to a birthday party for Ethan's best friend Harrison. It was a soccer party at a sports complex complete with a sixteen-year-old referee named Marshall and red punch and pizza. I dragged my husband along and he stood in the middle of the indoor field with Ethan while Ethan cried about trying to kick the ball but missing. It was awesome.
I got lucky. 20-month-old Nathan was invited to come but the rules of the complex said he couldn't play. There were lots of halls to run down so it wasn't like he would be forced to watch while strapped into a stroller or something. Luckily Marshall didn't seem overly concerned about either his job security or legal ramifications because he let the baby play on the field. Me? I sat on the sidelines on the ground with the rest of the parents and gossiped about absolutely nothing interesting. In the party department, I was lucky.
Just a few days ago my friend Devan was telling me she had to take her daughter to a birthday party. Her daughter is four, so I guess that technically she is supposed to stay with her during the party. But siblings aren't necessarily invited and her husband will be working. Actually, Devan hadn't even contemplated if the two-year-old was invited to the party too. Devan said that if the younger one couldn't stay, she would just leave with her.
I could tell that Devan was new to this whole thing. Clearly she hadn't heard the stories of a birthday boy's mother chasing another mother out to the car to tell her she couldn't leave her four-year-old but could she keep the two-year-old in the dining room away from the party? Or the mom who walked into the party with her baby only to find that all the other parents had hired babysitters for their extraneous children.
At Harrison's party, it was clear that siblings were invited. In Devan's case, it's not very clear. No one wants to be the person going against whatever is intended, but it seems like the lines have gotten fuzzy and there is no rulebook. Parties these days can cost a lot of money and sometimes a parent doesn't want to foot the bill for every family of four. And if you fall into that trap of inviting the whole preschool class of fourteen, now you are talking a very big party. But your child is only four. And isn't it just a party? What's your party policy at your house? Or even better, what's your party horror story?