Mommy’s First Toddler Birthday Party Invite
Forgive me if you have already covered this topic-I haven’t been able to read the entire archive of smackdowns (darn work!), but I have enjoyed the ones I have most recently read. I really enjoy your blog also and I’m sorry for all the rough times lately.
My conundrum is this: My sweet but rambunctious three year old daughter has been invited to a friend from daycare’s birthday party. Yay, right? But this is her first invite to something not family or Holiday oriented. I should explain-we live in the country, and have no close neighbors, much less neighbors with small kids. She has been in daycare since she was 3 months old, so she is acclimated to other children and has had play time with cousins (when in from out of town), etc, but no official ‘play dates’ yet. I am thinking I will need to attend the party with her for these reasons:
1. I’ve only met the parents briefly….nice people….but so are many pedophiles! You just don’t know. And I don’t know who else will be there.
2. I can’t trust my daughter to behave the whole time-I don’t expect the birthday girl’s mom to have to parent my child.
3. Daughter has milk allergy and ice cream is not a good idea. But who could say no to that cute face besides the mother who has had to deal with the reactions (not life-threatening, but still….)
So, can I assume parents are invited too? Should I just discuss this with the other mom when I call to RSVP? Should I offer to bring something since I am ‘crashing’? I know I am over-analyzing here, but I don’t want to be rude, and I want my daughter’s first experience outside of family to be a happy occasion and not just an opportunity for helicopter parenting!
Thank you thank you! Oh, did I mention it’s less than 2 weeks away?
I read about six questions this morning while trying to select a topic today — a couple got filed away in the “hmm, I need to think about that one some more” pile, one in the “not touching that one with a 20-foot virtual pole” pile — and the rest fell into another category. The “When Did Everybody Get So Scared To Talk To Other Grown-Ups?” category.
For the record, you are not only INVITED to attend this party, you are actually, in all honesty, EXPECTED to attend this party and keep an eye on your daughter. Three-year-old birthday parties are not drop-off events. My son is five and we’ve attended every birthday party he’s ever been invited to so far. Doesn’t matter whether it’s a backyard barbecue or a party at Gymboree or Chuck E. Cheese. Parents (mom or dad or both) are welcome and expected to tag along at these early social gatherings and help control the mayhem. Dropping a three-year-old child off on her own at a birthday party would be BY FAR, the exception, not the rule. My five-year-old isn’t even ready for that yet.
I actually still compile our party guest lists with a parent AND sibling head count in mind, because at the toddler/preschooler stage, kids really have yet to form an insular social circle, and I recognize that it’s just easier sometimes for the whole family to show up. (And this is usually what happens anyway, at least judging by the dozen or so toddler/preschool parties we’ve attended. Mom, dad, younger siblings, the more the merrier.)
I’m not 100% sure when the dropping-the-kid-off-type party starts — kindergarten? Elementary school? Bueller? — but I’m guessing even that still depends on the kid, the party and the comfort level you personally have with your child’s behavior and whether you know the other parents/household well enough. At this age, though, think of this as a party with training wheels. One day, your daughter will be invited to a party without you, and thanks to these early outings, she’ll know the party routine and what’s generally expected of a polite, well-behaved guest. But have no fear — no one expects that of her yet, and your presence is needed for a few more years to teach her all that.
Now that I’ve hopefully put your mind at ease, allow me to gently and jokingly pinch your arm or something because YOU COULD TOTALLY HAVE JUST ASKED THE OTHER MOM. I really don’t think she would have minded or judged you super harshly over not being 100% sure about toddler party etiquette. “Hi! Thank you so much for the invite! This is our first birthday party, so I hope I’m not out of line to assume it’s okay for me to attend as well?” DONE! Conundrum over.
If there is a question you would like answered by Amalah on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to email@example.com.