Saturday, May 24, 2008

i can think of no clever title

We were at a party this evening, supposedly to celebrate the 8th birthday of a neighbor. This little girl spends most of her time with her mother in Pennsylvania, but is sometimes here with her father and stepmother, whose company we enjoy. The little girl is a little harder to handle. I've found her to be bossy and manipulative, and not a friendly playmate. She also tries to pit children against each other.

We thought about dissing the party, but decided to go. It was clear that this was a whole family affair, so we wrapped up a present and headed out.

As we walked up to the house The May Queen remembered that the last time we were all there (for a housewarming party) the other girls screamed a lot, and she didn't like it. So we were already off to a rip roaring start. When she arrived there were some other girls from the neighborhood there, ones that the birthday girl is very friendly with. They were not overly welcoming to MQ, and made no real effort to include her. It was often pointed out that the other girls would be spending the night. The May Queen came and sat in my lap quite a while. There was a bounce house in the backyard, but otherwise it was clear that the children were to occupy themselves while the adults ate, drank, and talked. Which is fine, but not exactly a birthday party for an 8 year old. At least not in my opinion. But I tend to like throwing fun parties for little kids.

The house soon filled with friends from the father's work, some of them toting children. As the mix of children grew, it was easier for The May Queen to find a way in. And she did, fitfully. She kept coming back to check in, or when she had her feelings hurt. We talked with her, and encouraged her to return. Her daddy hung out with her for a while, trying to ease her transition. He mentioned with sadness that she seems to have more of his introverted nature than my extroverted one.

Ultimately it had gone much better than we expected upon our arrival. By the end of the night The May Queen was playing fairly well, and I had to practically rip her away, nearly an hour after her bedtime. We had been there 2 1/2 hours. The presents still had not been opened, despite several promises of "in a few minutes."

I remember as a kid being taken to lots of the those kinds of parties with my parents... parties where we kids ran around and played outside, or hunkered down and watched TV in out of the way bedrooms while parents talked and laughed elsewhere. I don't have a problem at all with that kind of party. It was awkward, though, to watch The May Queen try to fit in with these girls who made no effort to include her, whose parents gave her no instructions for how to include a new friend. And I just don't get why you would throw a party for adults, and toss in your kid's birthday party as an aside.

28 comments:

Alpha DogMa said...

I would rather go to your kind of kid party. Who needs a bounce house when you've got an involved mother. With a background in THEATRE!?

jen said...

perhaps i'd have titled this:

An afternoon at Veruca Salt's.

or, Violet, I'm turning Violet.

Karen said...

I totally agree - and it is false advertising as well. My youngest two would be far too young to go even make the attempt your May Queen did, but if we were invited under the auspices of a kid birthday we would have gone and had a terrible time b/c there would be no way for them to do what was expected, so we'd have to leave, which would also be terrible (no cake, no presents!) - and if we had known, we would have politely dissed the whole scene ahead of time. Sounds like MQ held her own, but it would have been nicer if the other kids had some direction!

Chrissy said...

Poor MQ. How rude of them to point out that they were invited to spend the night. Yuck.

Barrie said...

I'm glad the May Queen had a better time than was anticipated. But I hear what you're saying about the party.

blooming desertpea said...

That is so totally skew. I sometimes wonder what happened to nowadays adults or parents who neglegt to teach their kids to enclude every guest in their house? Are we becoming a population of eremits?

Manager Mom said...

Yeah, that IS weird about the combined party. Maybe they're just cheapskates and didn't want the expense of giving the kid their own party?

It is amazing how adaptable kids can be, though..I'm glad your girl managed to have fun anyway.

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

That feels so like a 60s era party to me. We used to go to a Christmas party every year that was a "family party" but really wasn't.

I remember the misery of being snubbed by the daughter and her circle of friends year after year. It was just the way it was.

I hope everyone can have a relaxed, kid-friendly rest of the weekend!

Sarcasta-Mom said...

Wow, that's seriously lame. You should teach them how to throw a proper kids party :)

Aliki2006 said...

That's all too bad, really. But at least MQ enjoyed herself a little. I like to have kids parties AND adults there, too--for us all to enjoy and celebrate the child's birthday together But throwing a party for the child as an aside is wrong.

AND...a pet peeve of mine is when thy don't open the birthday presents until AFTER the guests leave. I really dislike that.

flutter said...

HA @ jen!

Family Adventure said...

The parents should definitely have made sure MQ was included in the fun. I don't mind parents enjoying themselves at the same time, but if the kids are not playing nice, that should take priority over another glass of vino.

Heidi

imbeingheldhostage said...

A lot of "play groups" are becoming the same way-- you know, their touted as Mommy & baby time, but it becomes Mommies dissing the ones who aren't there while the children stick toys in their mouths.
No, I am not speaking of a personal experience (ok, I am).
I am actually sad for the 8 year-old. They have her so little of the time and couldn't focus on JUST her for her birthday?! And for the title, how about "Child Neglect Runs Rampant These Days" or "How to Ensure Your Child has Baggage By 23"...

bipolarlawyercook said...

Agreed. I seem to be surrounded by children treated as second thoughts these days, and while child as be all end all parenting makes me ill, too, it doesn't sound like this was anywhere near the medium.

womaninawindow said...

I remember those parties fondly, adults aside and distracted, and suddenly the world felt like it belonged to us kids. However, NEVER on one of the kid's birthdays. Seems a little perverse to me.

Mac and Cheese said...

Yeah, I used to work with a guy who gets excited about his friend's children's birthday parties because it gave him and his friends a opportunity to get drunk. I'm hoping at least the moms were looking after the children.

Kathryn said...

A title? How about: "Yeah, yeah, I said happy birthday already, now go play."
Okay, that's kind of long.
I kind of feel bad for the birthday girl too. Perhaps there is a reason she acts up like she does. Attention, maybe?
I know how MQ felt too. I remember finding those situations difficult when I was little. I was never the type of kid to just go up and introduce myself to other kids. Especially when they already know each other.

Just Seeking said...

Lame! That poor child. Not only is just jostled between households, but she's ignored in at least one of them---on her big day. Poor thing!

NotSoSage said...

Oh, I feel for MQ...

I went to a lot of parties like this as a kid, too, and I don't have a problem with them, but I wonder whether this is a symptom of the fact that the father didn't know who to invite except for his own friends, given that his daughter spends most of her time in another city? Not an excuse, by any means but maybe an explanation?

Chaotic Joy said...

Well I have been known to attend and even throw several of those adults and kids segregated kind of parties it's never for a birthday. And it's always kids that have always known each other because we are good friends with their parents. The birthday party should be about the kid. Even if it's just a quiet family affair, the kid should feel like they are the focus, for that event.

Victoria said...

Oh, poor MQ! Poor sweetheart.

I like how you throw parties too - it's my way as well.

Aunt Becky said...

I know precisely what you mean.

E said...

So maybe its a lucky thing that this little girl lives mainly with her mom in PA. Sounds like these adults are too wrapped up in their own lives to have made much room for her.
The MQ is lucky to be well loved with parents who pay real attention.
That little girl is manipulative for a reason. It is a learned response, poor kid...
Your little MQ will notice and feel sorry for kids like that neighbor before long.

JCK said...

It sounds like you and your husband handled the awkward situation beautifully. Being an anchor for the May Queen as she ventured out, an ear for her and best of all - a supportive parent!

Totally agree on the odd party for a child's birthday.

niobe said...

It sounds like a very difficult situation. Maybe the father and stepmother don't have the little girl with them often enough to have a good idea how to throw a children's party or to supervise groups of children? I'm not excusing their behavior -- just trying to understand it.

Amy Y said...

I think there is definitely a happy medium and a way to compromise between having a fun birthday party for the kids, where the parents can still enjoy being there. Maybe they can even *gasp* enjoy spending time with their kids by interacting in games or planned events?

Anyway, my hope is that next time MQ has a party, this girl will be around so you can show her parents how it's DONE! :)

nomotherearth said...

I really don't like parties where they take forever to open gifts, so that you feel that you must stay well beyond the time when you'd rather leave.

Christine said...

a child's birthday party should be about the child. period. the ADULT party should be an aside in that case.