A Lesson in Parental Manners

I try to teach my children manners.  Part of that is by modeling them.  I won’t always succeed (yes, my mother still occasionally gives me the stink eye if I don’t say “please” after asking for something when visiting her house), but for the most part I do my best.

This evening I took CootieGirl to a birthday party.  When she received the initial invitation, it said that it was  combination slumber party and pool party, starting at 4 p.m.   We RSVP’d (which most parents DON’T do nowadays – which drives me nuts) and then promptly got it in my head that tonight was the “slumber” portion of the party, and that tomorrow would be the “pool” portion of the party.  Let me preface the rest of this story by saying that I was incorrect.  The pool party started today at 4 p.m. and pickup of CG will take place tomorrow before the pool even opens.  But I didn’t realize this when I dropped off CG at the party.  Ignore that part for now.

We arrive at the girl’s house just as  it begins to very lightly rain.  We get her bag, the present and her sleeping bag to the front door and ring the bell.  No answer.  Then I hear a bunch of voices coming from the neighborhood pool, which happens to be right next to this girl’s house.  I peak around the corner and find the party taking place at the pool.   I send CG down to the pool to verify that this is the party to which she was invited.  Bear in mind: it’s still raining, and I’m still standing at the front door.

CG goes down and confirms that it’s the party, and I hear the mom say, “Have your mom come down here.”  Presuming she’s going to say, “The house is open, just put the stuff inside,” or something to that effect, I walk over to the fence and am pretty much ignored despite saying, “Hello,” quite loudly to announce my presence.  Finally, the dad, with a drag on his cigarette, says, “Honey – the lady is here.”  The mom turns her head and says hello.

I said, as politely as I could, “I’m sorry – I misread your invitation.  I thought it said the slumber party was first, and the pool party tomorrow.”  They just look at me blankly, as I continue to stand in the lightly falling rain while they remain under the pool shelter on the other side of the fence.   I then say, “We have CG’s stuff at your front door…” and the mom, still not actually coming over to INTRODUCE HERSELF TO ME, says, “Oh, just bring it down here for now.”

So up the hill I trudge with CG, getting her stuff.  The dad, finally fairly leaping into action, at least lets me hand the stuff over the fence to him rather than walk all the way around the pool house to the main entrance.  I say, “CG doesn’t have her suit on since we thought that was tomorrow.”  The dad says, “That’s okay – it’s raining so we’re probably going to go in in a few minutes.”

So I sent CG around to the pool entrance, telling her to have a good time.  I confirm that I’m to pick her up at 10 a.m. tomorrow, and I walk away.

I came home and looked at the invitation and discovered I was wrong.  The invite clearly states that the party would be at the pool, today.  So I was definitely wrong.  But that’s not what this post is about.

No, this post is about the absolute lack of manners displayed by the birthday girl’s parents.

Had it been me hosting this pool/slumber party, I:

1. Would have scheduled it to start AFTER the normal workday so that kids with parents who work aren’t forced to show up 2 hours late and miss part of the party.

2.  Would have been more helpful to any guests arriving late and stating that they read the invitation wrong.  I would have done this by:

  • Taking the time to introduce myself to the parent, had I not met them before;
  • Taking the time leave the pool area to either a)  let them into my house with their stuff or b) assist them in bringing it down to the pool area;
  • Not making them stand in the rain;
  • Apologizing for any error in the invitation that might have caused a problem (even if I knew bloody well that the invitation was clear as a bell).

I got none of that.  I got blank stares, two parents who didn’t introduce themselves to me, and a couple rainy walks to and from the house to get CG’s stuff and bring it to the pool.

Am I wrong to be upset?  I know it’s a trivial thing: big deal, you were late to a birthday party because you read the invite incorrectly.  Yes, I know that.  But I can’t help but thing about the reverse situation.  Had this happened to a guest attending CG’s birthday party, I would have bent over backwards to make the parent feel at ease – even if I knew she’d read the invite wrong.   I would have excused myself and let the parent into my house to leave her child’s things for the slumber party.   I would have apologized profusly for a possibly-confusing invitation.  I would have said things like, “I’m so sorry that your child missed part of the party, but I know she’ll have a great time the rest of the night!” or “Fortunately she didn’t miss much – the best is yet to come!” or “I do things like that all the time – don’t worry, you aren’t alone.”    My invite could have said, “BE AT THE POOL AT 4 PM” and if the parent still showed up at the house instead, I’d have STILL apologized for the confusion.  Sure, I’d have made fun of the parent after she left (I’m human, after all), but I’d have been polite and used good manners when speaking to her directly.

As I said, I know I was in the wrong with regard to the invitation.  The invitation clearly says the party is at the pool.   Once I realized I was in the wrong, my frustration about that situation dissipated in a heartbeat.  But my frustration remains over the lack of basic etiquette displayed by the parents.

The saving grace in all this was that 20 minutes later I took CB to the birthday party he is attending this evening and was greeted warmly by the mom. Granted, I’m friends with her – but still, she has good manners.

Give me your opinions on this.  Am I blowing it out of proportion?  Am I thinking of this all wrong?  What would you have done in this situation?

Update on Saturday: I went to go pick up CG this morning and do you know that the mom STILL didn’t introduce herself to me? I arrived at the front door, which was open except for a screen door, and she didn’t welcome me into her foyer to collect CG’s things, nor say ANYTHING to me as CG walked outside with all her stuff. Not.a.single.word.

They are the weirdest people ever. Again, I think of what I would do. I would greet the parent and say, “We had a great time – thanks for letting CG stay the night!” or “I hope CG had a great time!” I got none of that. I heard the mom say to her daughter, “Walk CG to the door,” and then she turned and walked away! WHAT?!

It’s baffling.

My Signature

If you liked that post, read on...

Good Mornin', Everybody! on May 24th, 2002

No Pool This Year on March 13th, 2006

To Tempt, or Not To Tempt on November 28th, 2005

It works! on May 9th, 2005


  1. No, you are not blowing this out of proportion! Extreme bad manners were exhibited by both parents. I guess one huge lesson would be to make sure you have MET the parents beforehand. I will be praying that CG has a good time despite the mix up and cool reception. Then, tomorrow, I would ply her with questions (not necessarily an inquisition) to get a good impression of the entire event, as well as using the experience as a teachable moment for her on why good manners are important. This could be rich! IfyouknowwhatImean. 🙂

  2. I made sure I kept a smile on my face so CG wouldn’t know how angry I was. I didn’t want HER excitement to be tempered by my opinion of the parents. So I’m sure she’ll have a great time tonight.

  3. I agree with you, the parents are basically cows; no class, no manners. I would have almost not left my child, I mean if these people are so inattentive. Nice job keeping calm though! I would have had to restrained myself not to have said anything!

  4. Wow, what clods! I have to totally agree with you, but then manners are severely lacking in general. I hope she had a good time.

  5. Parents are a bunch of blockheads in my opinion.
    I too would hvae been tempted NOT to leave my child. You showed great restraint, and I know you, so I’m sure that smile on your face was literally PLASTERED on there LOL!!
    Good for you though!
    Did you query CG after the party on how things were and if the parents interacted in the party or was there maid service on hand or some such ….?!!

  6. *lol* mbm, she didn’t seem as enthused about it as she was about her friend JoJo’s sleepover so I don’t think she as good a time as she hoped.

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