Thus begins the weekly Friday Advice Column for Neurotic Mothers and Others. Wacky Mommy is willing to answer any and all of your questions, and call in the experts if necessary. So fire away!
A disclaimer: This service is not meant to replace regular care and maintenance of your automobile, and is not intended… oh, wait. That’s from the letter my auto club sent me weekly when I had my Dodge Dart. What I meant was: This column is not written by a medical expert, or, to be brutally honest, an expert in much of anything. Yet people insist on asking for my advice! So, what’s a girl to do but attempt to help, however lamely she can? And not hold it against them when they don’t take my advice anyway! You don’t want my advice, dammit, don’t ask!
What I meant was: This column is not meant to take the place of medical attention from a doctor, witch doctor, or mental health professional. Whew!
Our first question:
“Hi, yeah, I have a kind of neurotic mother question. My son’s birthday party is this Saturday at the kids’ museum. Some of the people haven’t called to RSVP. Quite a few of them, actually. Is it OK to call them? And if they can’t come, invite other people? Even though it’s kind of late in the game? Is that tacky? Thank you.”
I heard from this mommy on Thursday evening, which in my book is planning ahead. I mean, two days til the big event! Dang, good job being so organized, baby! To her I say:
Hell, yes, get on the horn. Cuz you’re paying by the head at the museum, correct? And you want to make sure that at least a couple of his pals show up, otherwise it could traumatize the little guy for life, years of therapy, a twitch in his eye, etc.
What I have done in the past is call people and say something like “I know you guys probably have been swamped and haven’t had a chance to RSVP, but I’m wondering if you all are going to be able to make it to Woogum’s party on Saturday? It’s fine if you have other plans, I’m just trying to get a headcount for the museum! Thank you! Call as soon as you have a chance!”
Hopefully you get them on the line and don’t have to wait for a callback. If they hem and haw, for the love of God give them an out. Because we all know that for most of us, kids’ birthday parties can give us headaches, ruin friendships, send us running for numerous vodka lemonades, then you get called a drunk by your so-called friends, “It’s only 2 o’clock and you’ve already had two vodka lemonades? Jesus, woman, get a grip!” words are exchanged, etc. So be gracious. Then re-do your count and call a couple of more people, if the numbers match up, and say something like:
“Would you guys like to come to Woogum’s party? It’s this Saturday (details on location, time, gift exchange or not, etc.) and I totally understand if you guys already have plans.” Then… here’s the tricky part — let’s say Family One calls you back. “We CAN make it after all!” Well, then you’re screwed. Not really. You’ll just need to pay for the extra admissions. Or you could lie, and say “Sorry, the room is limited to 10 people and we just found out my husband’s cousins are in town. Want to get together next weekend at the park instead?”
* If you’re inviting his class, invite the whole class OR just one or two of the kids, tops (by private invite, through the mail). If you
invite half the class then that can be very hurtful to the rest of the kids, cuz they’re going to hear about the Big Fun they missed.
* A gift exchange of toys or books (in lieu of gifts for the birthday kid) can be nice. $5 max, and make sure to stash a few extra presents in the trunk of your car in case some of the parents forget. Another nice idea is to ask for donations to the Humane Society, local homeless shelter for women and kids, or another favorite charity.
* Limit the soiree to two hours, tops, for younger kids or Bad Things Can Happen. I know. And..
* No spin the bottle til they’re 12!
Kisses to the birthday boy!