The Birthday Party Ditch and Drop… for four year olds: At what age does it become okay to turn a birthday party into a day care drop off?
“How do you know if you’re supposed to leave your children or if you’re supposed to stay for a birthday party?” my friend, Mia*, asked me, more than simple curiosity filling her eyes.
“Uh…” I stammered, uncertain what she was searching for. “I guess once the kids are old enough, I’d ask the parent directly if it’s okay to leave them there or if they want me to stay.” I glanced at her again. “Why do you ask?
She grabbed my attention immediately, as I am the exhausted parent of a four year old, and filled me in on the details.
The Party: Held in honor of a four year old little girl.
The Hostess: The mother, seven months pregnant. Also mother to a six year old.
The Place: Birthday girl’s house.
Those Present: At least ten to twelve children ranging from four to six years old. Mia and her husband. Several dads.
Missing: All other mothers. A parental representative (of either gender) for several children.
That’s right. Several parents performed the Birthday Party Ditch and Drop. For a four year old’s birthday party.
Where the hostess is seven months pregnant.
What. The. Frak.
Am I missing something here? Did a memo go out?
When did people start leaving four year olds alone like a birthday party is day care?
Mia’s friend, being the person she is, took in stride as Mia helped to herd and contain the hoard of children while her husband was on duty with her youngest.
The other dads?
They stood on the fringes, minding their own business, until given specific instructions to help with a task.
Mia talked to me, livid on behalf of her friend. Because parents left a very pregnant woman at the mercy of unattended, very young children.
One poor four year old girl spent most of the time crying for her mother.
In theory, I understand there can be a host of reasons why a parent does the birthday “ditch and drop”. But in reality, it is a bit incomprehensible to me, particularly at such a young age.
The birthday parties I attend are for the children of my friends. Of course I want to attend and stay at the party, getting a chance to chat with our mutual friends while the children are distracted. I suppose this feeling might change as my children make friends through outside sources, but then I am faced leaving my child with a stranger who likely doesn’t even recognize my child.
So I ask you, because a I shudder in fear of wrangling a dozen five year olds:
At what age do you (or did you) participate in the Birthday Party Ditch and Drop? Is four too young? Does it depend on the type of party?
Or were you ever a surprise “victim” of it, expectantly finding yourself in charge of unattended angels/hooligans when you fully expected a parent to stay?
*Mia’s name has been changed.