[Solved] Should I take my child to a party I'm unsure about?
Just thought I'd quickly ask for opinions on this...
My 6yo daughter has been invited to a birthday party at the last minute (she received the invitation today). The party is tomorrow afternoon. I text the parents to find out what time as the invite was very vague and didn't say much, just 'sleepover or bbq' (what does that mean?) and had their address and phone number. The girl's dad phoned me earlier and again was very vague. He said we could come at 2pm and leave whenever and didn't give any more details than that - he had a very 'shrug of the shoulders' attitude, like it didn't really matter. It's hard to explain here, but I kind of gave up and said I would confirm by text later if we could come or not.
After the phone call, and considering I've never met the parents, I don't feel comfortable letting my daughter stay overnight, that much I'm sure about (she is with her mum tomorrow night any way, who will probably want her back home). My daughter has never mentioned this girl before either, and at this point I generally know most of her school friends. She didn't seem that excited about the invite, or able to tell me anything about the girl when I asked her.
I looked up the address and found that it's in what appears from the outside to be a very rough block of flats in a rougher part of town. I know I shouldn't judge a book by it's cover, but the whole thing - the short notice, the vague information, the rough area - is giving me a bad vibe. I hate to deny my daughter a party, but I want to do the right thing and would regret getting there to find it's an unpleasant experience for the both of us - but I could have it completely wrong. Her other friend, who's she's met up with a few times before, was also going to come over to play tomorrow if we had nothing on. My first thought is to let my daughter decide which she would prefer (although if she chose the party, I still wouldn't feel sure). Or should I go with my gut and politely turn down the party invite and say to my daughter that we have plans with her other friend anyway? I'm a very polite person by nature and I'm also afraid of offending the family if we don't go.
Any thoughts or advice would be very much appreciated as always!
Hope I’m not too late!
I would suggest if in doubt don’t... but to ensure there are no bad feelings, perhaps drop in a card and small gift to the child who’s party it is.
I’m a believer that if arrangements are already in place it would be wrong to cancel. The prior play date would take preference in my opinion, it encourages our children to do what is right and teaches them the importance of commitment and respect for others.
All the best
In the end I decided to go. If the other play date was set in stone I wouldn't have cancelled on them for the same reason you wouldn't, but it was a 'if we're both not up to anything tomorrow, let's get the kids together' kind of situation, so I let my daughter decide (her mum never takes her to birthday parties, because she doesn't like them personally and she's selfish, which upsets my daughter, so I had that in mind too) - she'd told me who else had been invited, and that made me feel a bit more comfortable, as at least if it wasn't a great party, there would be some people I know, and I thought what's the worst that could happen?
In hindsight, I would have had a better time not going personally, and probably my daughter too (I feel she would have got more enjoyment from the play date), as although she enjoyed just running around for a couple of hours, which is the main thing I guess, the whole vibe was a bit off and I felt very uncomfortable. When we got there no one was answering the main door to the block of flats. In the end someone else who was coming out let us in. The building wasn't the nicest - I did a reccy and found some pictures of flats for sale which looked pretty decent - I now know those pictures didn't account for the whole building. When they answered their own door I instantly got a bad vibe and it was obvious immediately that we were the only ones coming (apart from a family members). The girl whose party it was sat in the hallway on her ipad looking glum and the first thing the girl's mum said to us was 'Oh she's been so sad because no one is coming'. There was another lady and her toddler in the hallway, and a man solemnly nodded to me as he sat on a bed in a bedroom as I walked past (the door was open), She then lead me to the living room to sit on a cushion on the floor and then left us there - there was no furniture and I thought 'Shit, this is going to be a long 2 hours'. Eventually they came back and said we were going to the roof garden for a bbq and we were lead out. There was minimal to no conversation at all. Partly because of the language barrier (not sure where they were all from) and partly because they all kept to themselves and just didn't seem too interested that I was there (the man spoke to me briefly a couple of times, I'll give him that) and I was left to entertain myself. So my daughter and her friend ran around for a couple of hours and I twiddled my thumbs. About an hour in, they'd cooked food and set up some party decorations, again very last minute. The mum then took the girl off to get changed into her party dress and my daughter was left wondering where her friend had disappeared to (this was after a lady had asked why the girl wasn't in her dress, to which she responded 'I don't know why Mummy hasn't done it'. Throughout the whole thing they kept asking if my daughter was sleeping over, which I definitely wasn't comfortable with, but luckily I had the excuse that she had to be dropped back to her mum later. When it was time to go, my daughter, naturally, was asking this girl about the birthday cake, which she had seen earlier on, to which her dad, or step dad, said it was happening later, and said to me they had more people coming later 'after work', which he told me a few times before then too. So when we went, I said to the girl 'Enjoy the rest of your birthday, I think you've got more people coming later haven't you', to which she replied in a sad tone 'No, no one else is coming'. Earlier on, she'd said to my daughter that no one else was coming, to which my daughter said 'It might because there wasn't enough information' - that might have been a bit much for my daughter to say that, but in all honestly, she was right. It was poorly organised, and very last minute, and I don't know how they could expect parents to be able to make it along with their kids at such short notice with very little info. I felt bad for the little girl really. Not all of us are lucky to have nice homes and well paid jobs, but it doesn't take much to be a bit more on the ball for the sake of your only daughter's happiness on her birthday - it only happens once a year! And it wasn't like they couldn't afford food and drink for everyone, for example - they had enough there to feed 30 kids.
Long story short, it was a very odd experience in an environment I'm not used to. I kept asking myself if I was being snobbish, but ultimately it was the atmosphere and not feeling welcome more than anything that made me uncomfortable. And I've been wondering ever since whether I made the right decision to take my daughter along. She seemed happy the whole time though, and was happy when we left, so I guess the new, different experience can only make her a more rounded person down the line.
Sorry for the essay, but had to share!
Thanks for the update! Sounds very bizarre, but if your daughter was happy that’s all that matters. It’s good for our children to have different experiences and to see how other people live... it’s probably a good idea to take ourselves out of our comfort zone occasionally too.
At the end of the day, no harm done and the party girl had at least one guest that turned up... so it probably meant more to her than you realise.
All the best
Yeah, on reflection, I'm glad we went if it's what my daughter wanted to do, and she was happy. And like you said, it probably meant a lot to the birthday girl that my daughter was there.