I invited my son’s entire first grade class to his birthday party. Out of 24 kids, two replied. From one parent to another, when your son or daughter brings home a birthday party invitation, please RSVP.
A simple yes. A simple no.
No excuses necessary, but a response is very much required.
Understanding the nature of kids, some of these invites never make it into their parent’s hands. They get lost in backpacks, yeeted under bus seats, and thrown away with all the cut-and-paste worksheets from their take home folder.
And understanding the nature of parents, some of these are forgotten in a stack of mail, lunch menus, and fundraising flyers not to see the light of day until it’s too late.
But for the precious birthday party invites which are read and reviewed, boasting a hopeful parent’s phone number for an RSVP, I’m wondering why we can’t be better about picking up our phones and texting “yes” or “no.”
This is the first year we were able to plan a party for my son. We were excited to give him the celebration he’d patiently waited through a pandemic for.
Normalcy. Playing with friends. We decided to do it big and invited his whole class.
The invitations went home from school and I anxiously awaited the replies. We got two quick yeses. Then days went by with crickets.
I proofread the invite daily for typos. My son’s teacher graciously made an announcement to his class to remind them about the invitation.
Still no more replies.
If you’ve sent invites to school, you know what goes through a parent’s mind when almost no one responds to your kid’s birthday party invitation. And for those who haven’t, I’ll enlighten you on our frustrated behalf.
First, you panic about the logistics. You wonder if a bunch of kids are going to show up even if you never heard from their parents. It’s impossible to guess how much food, cupcakes, beverages, and party favors to provide.
Then, you worry about notifying the venue so they can be prepared. There’s a big difference between accommodating 2 and 24. You find out you’re paying for a minimum number regardless so you start to relax.
But then, your mom fears kick in and you wonder if there’s something more troubling going on at school.
Your heart breaks as you wonder if none of the kids WANT to celebrate with your son or daughter.
You think more deeply about the parties your child wasn’t invited to throughout the year. You think about the seemingly petty squabbles you had once brushed off as typical elementary school drama. And you worry your kid isn’t making friends.
Suddenly the logistics don’t bother you as much as your heartache.
It starts to feel personal.
A few days before my son’s party, I realized my hands were tied. Our school can’t reach out to families about non school-related events and they can’t give out parent info to other parents.
I had no way of getting ahold of them and no idea how many kids would actually be attending.
I conceded our small head count but ordered extra food and had plenty of party favors just in case some of his classmates showed up on a whim.
In the end, just those two kids showed up.
And thankfully our close friends and family were there to support him as well. It was a fun day and my son only mentioned two or three names of kids who weren’t there. He was too busy having fun with the few kids who did show up to be bothered by how many didn’t.
But I’ll be honest, all the heartache, worrying, and wondering bothered me.
Finally being in a position to plan a birthday party for my kid should have been more fun.
It wasn’t even my party and here I was crying about it.
And much of the turmoil could have been avoided with a very brief text. “Hey, sorry we can’t make it this weekend! Hope he has fun!”
I’ll never know what happened with those twenty-two invites. Lost or forgotten perhaps.
Perhaps when that many are sent, some parents assume their one RSVP won’t matter either way.
I promise it matters a lot.
I know I’m not the only parent who has gone through this with their kids. I’m learning the lack of response is more common than not.
The same conversation keeps coming up in different circles and yet, we haven’t gotten any better at not only replying to invites, but also showing up for each other’s kids.
We’re all busy. But we’re all parents who care about our sons and daughters. And we all dread throwing the party for them no one attends.
Let’s show up for each other when we can.
And when we can’t, let’s RSVP.