Parenting is never smooth sailing. For the big problems, I seek guidance from my pediatrician or other professional advisors. But for the “how-to” questions or the non-emergency “glitches,” I turn to my parents or my parenting peers. My most recent question was a little tricky. It wasn’t about birthday planning. More like birthday etiquette.

My son is at the age where he’s receiving invites to friends’ birthdays. For every child’s birthday party my kids are invited to, there’s only one question that I care about the answer. I don’t care where the party is located. I’m not particularly interested in what the activities or theme will be. Heck, sometimes, I don’t even care who the party is for.

The question I want answered is “Is this a drop-off birthday party or one where the parent stays?”

Should I Stay or Should I Go?

Recently, Cohen got invited to a child’s 7th birthday party. I asked him if he went to school with this child, and to his knowledge he did not. Then, I looked at his soccer roster, and I didn’t see the child’s name. I emailed his teacher at school and asked if there was a Brandon in his class. Nope, no Brandon.

I was hesitant to send my child to this birthday party. I didn’t know the parents, and he didn’t know the kid. So now what should I do? He still wanted to go to the party because birthday parties are fun.

The party was clear across town, so I knew Cohen didn’t go to school with the birthday boy. I’ve been to birthday parties where the parent of an invited kid has to stay, but those are the worst. However, I felt obliged to stay. I wanted to meet the parents and figure out why Cohen was invited.

I knew it wouldn’t be long, and I also knew that my kids wouldn’t want me there with them during the party and seeing what they were doing with their friends. But I needed to figure out who these people were.

And I did. They were from his newly formed Boy Scout troop. We’ve had one meeting.

Maybe Next Time, I’ll Leave

Parties like these become all about me watching my child at someone else’s house besides my own. It consisted of two hours with other parents, sitting in some uncomfortably small chair at a bounce house and other kid-centered games. What was worse was watching the host parent load my child up with soda and cake then sending him back with me!

And to think…I bought a gift for someone to put me through this.

I suppose there could be worse ways to spend my weekend besides attending a birthday party with my child. It wasn’t such a bad thing to meet some of the parents of the friends Cohen hangs out with. And who doesn’t love to watch their children play and have fun with a group of friends, even if they are scarfing cake and chugging soda while they do it!

Maybe the “parent stays” parties aren’t so bad after all. Or maybe next time I can just awkwardly meet the parents and leave.

Mallory Connelly

Mallory Connelly

Babies & Toddlers

In addition to the time I devote to being a mom, I also work full-time outside the home, which means my day is hardly ever as simple as nine to five. With an all-too-established schedule, as soon as I walk through the door, my day doesn’t end, but rather just begins. It’s a balancing act, especially with two children, but being a mom is one full-time job that I never want to quit!

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