Recently I found myself in an awkward situation at a child’s fifth birthday party. This was a party in a private home, with 15 children and their parents in attendance. One of the kids was having a wild day – hitting, screaming, throwing things. His mother and father were watching and seemed to just chuckle and act like it was normal behavior. I am a very close friend of the host, who was slowly losing her mind over the parent’s inaction. She asked me to quietly take the parents aside and ask them to have their child behave or leave. I did so as politely as possible, explaining the host had asked me to speak with them because she was too busy with the party. The parents were livid. They said the host should have spoken to them instead of dragging other guests into gossip and that they were invited and would stay for lunch and cake. The couple then stood in the corner of the garden and glared at me and the host. I finally asked them to leave (at the behest of the host) when their son picked up a glass vase and threw it on the ground.
Lola, what could I have done differently in this situation?
Dear Mischief Mismanaged,
I hope you can forgive me for my name pun, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to use the word mischief. It has such a great effect when used in a sentence, yet rarely does the opportunity to use the word present itself.
Unfortunately for you, this is where my praise ends.
You (and the host) bungled this situation badly. Miniature Humans have long been plagued with terrible behavior, especially when their ages are in the single digits. Add in extra bodies and the behavior amplifies by ten. Throw in a few innocent party games and the Miniature Humans morph into a new beast, one more similar to my species. Every moment becomes a feat of survival and the last body standing gets the ultimate prize.
A slice of birthday cake, and all the frosting their eyes can see!
Year after year, Hominid Wranglers host these parties with the same results. Someone’s Miniature Human ends up on a wild tear, the Wranglers become flustered and embarrassed, paralyzed by indecision. Should they discipline their offspring in public and risk censure by the others for being harsh, or let their beast run free and risk censure by the others for being lackadaisical?!
Every so often a vase or two gets broken.
That’s the risk every host takes when they open their home.
There’s nothing you can do to correct what has happened – it is now up to the host to make nice with the other side. Or she can avoid the situation entirely and spend the next 12 years standing awkwardly next to these Hominid Wranglers at every school event. I’m guessing that’s the tack she will take based on her unwillingness to step in when her own home is being torn apart by a tiny tornado hopped up on sugar. In future, resist the urge to step in when a host asks you to. Unless you are named on the invites or appointed as meeter and greeter of an event, you should act like the guest you are.
The messenger always gets blamed.
By the way, how did the birthday cake taste?!
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