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Todd Parker Todd Parker
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Dear Todd Parker - (08/18/15)

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There's something that I've been wondering about for a long time, but I can never really ask anyone about it because it's the kind of question that will probably make people think that I'm an ahole.

Why do I have to go to a child's birthday party?

Let me be clear I'm not talking about parties for nieces and nephews and crap like that. Obviously, I have to go, regardless of how unspeakably dull they tend to be. Being an uncle comes with certain responsibilities. I get that. Besides, it's the best way to figure out who the favorite is going to be so that the wife and I can avoid getting stuck in a crooked nursing home down the road.

No, I'm referring to parties for the children of acquaintances. Like if my wife's friend is having a fourth birthday celebration for little Declan or whatever, why are we expected to go? If we had kids of our own, it would be one thing, but we don't. My wife says I don't have to (and she means it), but I know that these things are far more excruciating if you are by yourself and she's going to attend because she's a much better person than I am. So I suck it up, even though I don't know any of these kids and barely know most of their parents.

Am I being unreasonable in wanting an out? What's the protocol in telling someone that you have no interest in spending precious hours of free time watching a dozen kids hopped up on sugar careen around someone's living room?

Party Pooper

Dear Party Pooper,

You're absolutely right, my friend. Birthday parties are the worst, no matter who they're for. Kids, adults, pets they are almost always lame. You're not a bad dude for feeling this way. It's important that you understand that.

But you are going to continue going to these parties from now until the end of time or at least until the last of your acquaintances' kids ship off to college. There is no escape. It's birthdays all the way down, my friend. Get used to it.

Being a curmudgeon is all well and good, but the truth is that there are people that take this kind of crap ridiculously personally. Not all people or even most people but some. Unfortunately, it's difficult to know what kind of person you're dealing with before it's too late. Heaven help you if you cross one of the bad ones. Even excused absences can be met with passive aggression and poorly-hidden resentment. How dare you not want to celebrate the day that their precious little snowflake entered the world? Their kid is the best kid and you DAMN WELL BETTER RECOGNIZE!

Your wife seems resigned to this reality in which you both find yourself, so it's time for you to get with the program. And don't you dare take her up on her offer to let her go it alone; that would be horribly unfair. If you don't go, she not only has to white-knuckle her way through an excruciating afternoon of high-pitched screeching, but also has to bear the brunt of disdain inspired by your absence. 'I see Party Pooper isn't here; did he have something more important to do today? I'm sure (insert Stupid Kid Name here) won't be TOO disappointed.' You can't do that to the woman you love.

So: suck it up, Buttercup. Smile and eat your cake and try not to let the agony show on your face. That's the best advice I can give you.

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