Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Birthday Party Drama

It's challenging being a parent. Everyday we are put to the test. Sometimes we fail, sometimes we soar. I believe that the decisions we make, for the most part, are the right ones. For our children and for ourselves.

I like to think that I'm a good mom to my boys. They are my entire life, after all. I love them with every single cell in my body. And there is nothing I wouldn't do for them.

My job as my children's mother is to protect them, love them, teach them, support them, push them in the right direction, and comfort them, while sometimes taking them out of their comfort zone.

My oldest child is shy in new surroundings. Once he gets comfortable, he does okay, but it can sometimes take a while. He is my sensitive child, my thinker, my learner. I believe he suffers from some social anxiety in certain situations.

Sometimes, I have to help push him out of his comfort zone, even if he resists—for instance, when we signed him up for swimming lessons over a year ago, it was non-negotiable—he was going to go. After a few minutes of crying in the water, he started enjoyed himself. It was hard seeing him sad at first, but the benefits of him learning to swim far outweighed me just giving in and taking him home over a few tears.

When he was recently invited to a birthday party that took place somewhere public (not in a home) my son begged me to stay with him.

"Please don't go, mommy, stay with me!" he cried to me, his cheeks scarlet red. He was clinging tightly to my arm.

I could tell right away that things weren't going to get easier for him after just a few minutes. It wasn't the birthday party of a close friend, so I decided I would stay with my son. There were about 8 children at the party, and I was the only other parent there. It didn't even cross my mind that it was weird that I stayed. The parents of the birthday child were friendly, and we had a nice time.

Well. Overheard outside my son's school this week:

Mom 1: "You mean she stayed the entire time?"

Mom 2: "Yes! He wouldn't let her leave!"

Luckily it wasn't me who overheard that conversation, otherwise, I would have said a few things I might later have regretted. My mom actually heard that conversation, and basically said, "Yes, my grandson is shy. He wanted his mother to stay."

Mom 2: "Oh, yeah, we were just talking about the fact that he's shy."

Are you kidding me? Is it that weird that I stayed at a birthday party with my son who is only 5 years old? Somewhere public? I honestly do not think so. I remember parents always stayed at my parties when I was younger.

First of all, it's a big help, having another adult present. I can take my son to the bathroom, I can re-fill his cup of juice, I can help clean up. A room full of rambunctious 5 year olds can be very distracting. Of course I'm going to stay to make sure my child is okay.

If he was celebrating his best friend's or cousin's birthday, I'd leave, no problem, if he wanted me to. But right now? If my son needs me to comfort him, to help him? I'm not leaving his side. I'll stay by his side for as long as he needs me to. I'm his mother, and it's my job. And I love it.

What about you? What are your thoughts about this? Do you leave your child no matter what, or stay? Is there a certain age where you think your children should be left alone at a party, no matter what? I'd love to hear from you!

34 comments:

MommyQ said...

This is a great topic! I was just in the same situation and I stayed too. The thought never even crossed my mind to drop off my boys and leave. I love seeing my kids laughing and having fun, so I'm thrilled to experience a B-Day party with them. Besides, these are the moments we will miss when they're teenagers. :)

Elisa @ Globetrotting in Heels said...

whatever, they are just being bitchy. I woulnd't feel comfortable leaving Stella at a party in a public place with people I don't know from Adam, either.

Karma & Adam said...

This reminds me of a story my friend told me recently, when she also stayed (as the ONLY parent - there were the party planners there to do crafts etc) at a bday party for a 4-year old. I actually couldn't believe that no other parents stayed, in a room of 15 4-year olds! Anyway, as it turned out it was good she stayed because there were a few kids who literally couldn't do the crafts by themselves, and were getting frustrated and sad. The party planners couldn't handle helping all the kids, and without my friend, some of those children would have gone home without their craft done.

I'm a big believer in doing what works for you - let them judge if they want, who cares? At the end of the day you know you did the right thing for you and your son, and that's what's important here.

Sam said...

I would have stayed and have done so in the past. And I have always invited the parents of the children coming to parties for my children to stay too, if they would like.
I personally think it's disrespectful, as a parent, to leave if your child truly wants and feels they need you to be there. I want my children to treat me with respect and so I offer respect to them in kind.

Avitable said...

For a five year old, it seems normal for the parents to be there. I would even think as old as 8-9, the parents would still hang around.

MommyLovesStilettos said...

My daughter is seven (going on 22) and she is not shy AT ALL. I will leave her at a birthday party with her friends. However, my son (who is 4) will probably be just like your son. He is a mama's boy and never likes me to leave his side. I don't think it's weird. I think those moms are bitches. When I had a birthday party for my children in August we had 24 kids there and I was SO thankful for the parents that stayed and helped! :)

Anonymous said...

I have tons of thoughts on this subject; some as a mother, some as an experienced children's party attendaant and some as an Early Childhood Educator.

Children are all different and they all have different needs. I do not think it is unusual to stay at a party aat age 5. It is far more odd at age 6 however unless you actually are friends with the family. That said, a child who suffers from social anxiety should probably start choosing which parties he attends. So if he was not that close to teh birthday child he probably doesn;t need to attend anyway. Allowing him to attend parties of only his closest friends will help him cope with his anxieties much better. Negociating before hand to stay for say 15 minutes would probably be a successful compromise if he was in fact comfortable with the friend you were leaving him with.

Most parents do not expect the parents to stay because parties are expensive and if all these adults are staying the host starts to feel obligated to feed and cater to all these parents. A party of 10 kids could soon be up to 35-40 people. Some people also just dont have the space.

I think it's very petty to judge a parent who chooses to stay in the school yard like that. These are supposed to be mothers not children.

From personal experience aas a mom, I have only taken my kids to parties where I was comfortable staying when they were small. My oldest is now 7 and we always drop him off unless it's a friend of mine or family. Being away from them gives them a chance to discover their world in a different way. It's a learning experience in independance and it is so very important. The transition should be gradual and practiced in the company of close friends.

OHmommy said...

We've been having drop-off birthdays for kids since they were 4. I always write on the invite (and we only invite a small amount of kids we can manage) that it is a drop off party.

Typically everyone just drops the kids off. I have had a mother or two, in the last eights years of bday parties, stay. Because she wanted too. Which is fine.

You do what you feel is right. Don't let them make you feel otherwise.

WebSavvyMom said...

-->Mother knows best. You did the right thing for you and yours. The End.

Anonymous said...

My daughter was very shy and had a hard time making friends. She always stayed on the outside. When she started going to parties I did not stay for two reasons. She didn't cry because she would never have done that while anyone could see her. The second reason was because as long as I was there she would make no attempt to interact with her classmates.

On the other hand my son who did not appear to be in the least bit shy would have a meltdown when I tried to leave him. So I would either stay the entire time or until he felt comfortable. He just turned 8 and sometimes in certain situations he still needs to know I'm around to feel comfortable. He has no problem at parties but other times he just needs his mom to hang around a while. So I will.

Erica said...

omg how nervy of those moms! i would efinitely stay .....everytime Sofia is invited to a party stay ....maybe when she gets a bit older and wants me to go home i will but for now i stay with her. She is a bit shy too at first. Plus i think at that age parents leaving is kind of bad. I personally would rather stay that way the host mom doesnt have to do everything for my child in addition to the other little ones.

Elaine A. said...

We stay at ALL the birthday parties here. It's like families are invited now and not just one child. Seriously. I have yet to leave my almost 6 yr. old at a party, even at someone's home, without me or my husband there so to ME, this is really strange.

But, even if that is not the "standard" where you live I see NOTHING wrong with you staying with your son. Poo poo on those women. Geez.

Nikosmommy said...

HA! I just went through this in May! At my son's 5th b-day party here at the house I had 12 boys over. Included were the 6 boys from Nikos Greek preschool class. One boy was absolutely petrified and didn't want his mom to leave. His anxiety was so high that he begged his mom for them BOTH to leave. Now he KNEW at least 6 of the other boys there but he just didn't want to be there without his mom. I didn't know his mother AT ALL but I graciously welcomed her to stay. Out of the 12 he was the only one to have separation issues, but what can you do? Some kids are very sensitive and more dependent on their parents to guide them through new social situations. There's nothing wrong with it. And they ARE still pretty little. I wouldn't worry about it Loukia..... he'll gain more confidence/indpendence once he's been in school and around kids all day.

Krystyn said...

You did the right thing.

And, a 5 year old? Nope, I don't think that's a drop off party..is it? Because, seriously? My kids are going to have to push me out the door if that's the case.

Why are moms so judgmental? Ugh.

Anonymous said...

I always stay at birthday parties, otherwise my son would be a nervous wreck. There is nothing wrong with that at all. And you are not alone! I've been to several birthday parties where a few parents have stayed.

Jessica said...

I would have stayed with my son as well, you did the absolute right thing. Seems odd to not have parents stay with children that young. As for the women talking about it, they definitely have issues.

Barbara @Ottmomgo said...

When my daughter had her 4th birthday party, all parent stayed. At her 5th, 1/2 parents stayed. At her 6th, 1/3 parents stayed. I didn't judge any of them. The parents that put their 5 year old over the gate at Cosmic Adventures, while he cried brokenheartedly, I judged. As a parent, we make the decisions for our kids not based on what others think.

BusyDad said...

Bottom line, you do what your instincts tell you. No one knows what's better for your kids as you do. Same goes for pushing your kid to do something he might not want to do. You have a better idea (than even he does, most of the time) what the outcome will be. There are no hard and fast rules in life, and childrearing is no different. Glad you stuck to your guns. :)

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I remember always being left at birthday parties when I was growing up. But then I also remember walking to school by myself when I was five and playing outside (sans parental supervision) until "it got dark." So I would have to defer to how we currently do things in my area, and we stay at birthday parties. I I had a party for a five year old with six other five year olds on the guest list, you BET I'd want those parents to stay!

Nenette AM said...

Oh, yeah, I would've stayed. I did with all of the parties Mini went to until last year (transitioned from 5yo to 6yo) when she blossomed and became Miss Social-Butterfly.

You did the right thing, Mama. You were there for your child, and he'll remember that, appreciate it, and be an awesome parent to his own kids someday.

xo

skichik79 said...

sounds like the adventure's of Old Christine the 2 blond bitchy moms that think they are perfect ... good for you for staying .. screw them !

Sara @ Domestically Challenged said...

Well, I don't see the problem. I never left Elijah at a party at that age either. Especially at a public place. I didn't feel comfortable, and STILL have a hard time with it! Actually? Asher had his 4th birthday party and a mom left her 3 year old, and i thought that was not cool. He's THREE!

Jill said...

I'd say it totally depends on the kid - my now 7 year old always wanted me to leave whenever she had play dates or parties to attend. Her younger sister, now 5, always wants me to stay... until she gets comfortable. Which is usually more than halfway through the party.

I say screw the other ladies - you have to do what's right for you!

Lady Mama said...

I don't see what the big deal is. He's five years old! You used your mommy senses and knew that if you left him there alone he might have had a bad time. I would have done the same thing. Those gossipers need to get a life and stop discussing such trivial things!

Mercy D'souza said...

My kids are still too young to be left alone at a party, but I think that I would rather stay with them instead of leave, at least until they reach the age when they say, "It's ok, mom, you can go." I'm not comfortable leaving my kids alone anywhere, especially if I don't know the other parents or it is a public place.

Lynn said...

This happened to me when my son was in JK -- he was just turned 5. He isn't shy but he has some serious food allergies, and the night before the party he had a bad reaction. We decided to let him go to the party the next day but I stayed with him, just in case anything happened like him having trouble breathing or needing his epipen - I didn't want the mom having the party to have to deal with that.

I think I did the right thing but the other moms definitely thought it was very weird that I stayed. I think I made the parents at the party very uncomfortable. He's never been invited back to that house!

I think you did the right thing too...but there's maybe no escaping the gossip that follows.

Connie W said...

I wouldn't have left my child either.

My daughter is just like you described and I expect we're going to face challenges like this. I would rather she feel comfortable with me close by...than upset and traumatized because I left her.

You did the right thing Mama!

blueviolet said...

I tended to stay to give him the security of knowing I was there, but I tried to stay in the shadows while doing it.

ModernMom said...

My girls are now 9 (sigh) and 11. At every party we have had the parents KNOW they are welcome to stay if they wish. At the age of 5 I am sure we had more then a few mama's stick around. Totally normal, wonderful and welcome. Those caddy women should just shush.

Shannon @ AnchorMommy said...

Okay, I'm totally new to this birthday party thing, I guess, cause I'm not down with the drop-off parties. Can't imagine throwing one (unless the kids were like, 7 or 8 or something) or actually leaving my nearly 4 year old at a party. Anyway, I think it's totally FINE that you stayed! Not weird at all! I'd do the same thing. Can't believe those moms were talking like that!

CaraBee said...

I'm actually surprised that other parents didn't stay. Five is still awfully young. If nothing else, that's a lot for the parents of the birthday child to handle. I would think your help would be appreciated. I wouldn't give one more second's worry to those busybodies.

Scary Mommy said...

Awwww, I just read this after writing on the other side-- I hope I didn't offend you!!!

I'm all about dropping Lily and running- that's what she wants. But, if she didn't, or if my boys don't? Hell no, I won't go. Fuck those bitches- who are they to judge? Your kid, your call. Period.

XOXOXO

Katie said...

At all of the parties my son has attended with 4/5 yr olds, every parent has stayed. His 5th birthday is on Saturday and I assume most if not all parents are going to stay. I really never thought this was even an issue until I read this.

B said...

I think it is always up to you to do what is best for your child, and staying at that party was what was best. People just need something to gossip about or they'd be bored so ignore their ignorance and look forward to the next party.

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