I was all fired up to blog about this outrageous story about a Maryland family who were reported to police and eventually had child protective services threaten to take away their children for the egregious sin of letting their six and eight year olds walk a mile or so to a park unattended.
But then I stumbled across this even more rant-worthy story. A mother in the UK sent an invoice to the child’s family in the amount of Â£15.95, which is just shy of $30 Cdn, when said child failed to attend the birthday party to which he had been invited.
I have more than one problem with this. Ahem. First, if you’re sponsoring an activity for your five year old’s birthday party, does it really need to have a value of $30 per person? What the hell are we doing with these out-of-control birthday party costs?
And that doesn’t even broach the question of invoicing the parents for missing the party. Okay, so let’s back this up. What actually happened?
The parents of a five-year-old schoolboy have been invoiced for failing to attend a school friendâ€™s birthday party and have been threatened with legal action if they do not pay.
Derek Nash and Tanya Walsh found a brown envelope with a Â£15.95 â€œno show feeâ€ left in their son Alexâ€™s schoolbag last week, sent by his classmateâ€™s mother Julie Lawrence.
Lawrence claims that Alexâ€™s failure to attend her childâ€™s birthday party has left her out of pocket, and that his parents had her details to tell her that their son would not be attending.
Nash said he had been told he would be taken to small claims court for refusing to pay.
And I thought $25 loot bags were over the top. Yikes!
We’re right on the precipice of birthday season here, with two parties booked in the next three weeks and one more birthday following up in March. (So far, one in home party and one on location party have been scheduled.) In the past, I’ve spent upwards of $200 for a party with a dozen kids and felt we got good value for that – sometimes, no amount is too much to pay to keep the screaming, sugar-jacked eight year olds out of YOUR living room, I totally get that.
Over the years, disasters have happened. The day before Tristan’s sixth birthday party at Starr Gymnastics was the epic snow dump we received in March of 2008, with 60 cm of snow falling in about 30 hours. We shovelled frantically to get out of the driveway and made it to Starr in time for the Sunday-morning party, but only his cousin and a dear family friend managed the same effort. Oh well. I wouldn’t dream of invoicing the parents for the missed party. In other years, we’ve called family friends in at the last minute and offered paid-for spaces at a party to their older children when guests cancelled at the last minute. Stuff happens.
As far as I’m concerned, the money I pay for my kid’s birthday party is a gift to that child. In other years, we’ve bought a gift that was more extravagant than we’d usually consider (eg refurbished iPods) in lieu of a party, and the kids were on board with that. I’m not running an entertainment facility and I don’t charge kids for admission to parties — I pay for parties because my boy has looked at me with those beautiful brown eyes and said, “Please can we have a party at LaserQuest again? Last year’s party was the best ever and I really had fun!”
We’ve had terrific discussions about where to host a kid’s birthday party in Ottawa (one of my more popular posts – note to self, you should update that one of these days) and the perils of loot bags (really, don’t even get me started.)
What do you think? Is this or is this not the most ridiculous thing you’ve heard of when it comes to kid parties? Or can you see a justification for this that I’m missing?