How would YOU handle this Party Doomsayer chick?

Party Doomsayer
So then…she asks, “Do you have a lifeguard on duty?”

I look at my backyard. All the kids are on the sport court or grass. The pool cover is pulled tight over the pool, completely obscuring the water — and the pool itself is surrounded by a 5-foot-tall locked iron fence.

And it’s November.

“No,” I say to the concerned mom. “Tucker’s birthday party is really just on the sport court and patio. There won’t be any swimming today.”

“Well,” she says, with a little self-righteous cock of the head. “You never knooow with kids…”

Oh, but I do know. That’s why I locked the pool fence, ensured the pool cover completely encased the pool, and invited all the kids’ parents so they could enjoy lunch out on the patio while simultaneously keeping an eye on their kids.

Also, the kids aren’t 4. They’re in 4th grade.

But I calmly reassure the mom, Karen, that no one will be admitted to the pool. I’ve just met her today – and I’m committed to making friends with all the parents at Tucker’s new school. It’s why I invited the moms to attend the party in the first place.  I know 25 kids is a lot for a birthday party, but we wanted to include all his classmates.

Karen seems slightly mollified by my assurance and wanders off.

I greet more parents, stack birthday gifts, and snap photos of Tucker having a blast with the kids from his class.

Then Karen sidles up next to me and says in a loud whisper, “Some of the kids are riding scooters and bikes!”

I look over to see a few kids riding around on the sport court.

“Yeah, that’s great,” I say. “Some of Tucker’s and Chloe’s old bikes are a little small, but the kids seem to be having fun.”

“But you don’t have enough helmets for all the kids, do you?” she asks.

Um, no. I don’t keep 25 helmets at my house. I have 2 kids, for God’s sake. So I have 2 helmets. And a couple of their old smaller helmets. Was I supposed to buy 25 helmets for this backyard party? I want to say this, but instead, I say politely:

“Oh, it’s just a flat sport court; they’re not going very fast. We’re in the backyard, so we’re not near the street at all. I think it’ll be OK.” I find myself feeling a bit defensive.

I check out the kids – will they be OK? They’re 9 and 10 years old – they look pretty hale and hearty – I think they’ll be OK, right? Right? This chick is messing with my head.

Chloe, age 6, calls me over to refill the chip bowl. She’s so excited to be at her big brother’s birthday party hanging out with older kids.

I meet more moms; we laugh and talk; I keep an eye on the kids; all seems to be going well.

Karen approaches me with a determined look. “You’re going to let the kids jump on the trampoline?”

As opposed to what? Sleep on the trampoline? Eat the trampoline?

“Um, yeah, it’s ok. My kids and their friends jump on it all the time,” I say.

“Trampolines are so dangerous!” she exclaims. “Someone could be paralyzed for life!”

“Well, um, OK, but it’s completely enclosed by that netting that’s like 10 feet tall – and it’s on the grass.” I say. “Besides, everyone’s parents are here, so if they don’t want their kid on the trampoline, I’ll let them tell their kid.”

She stares at me.

“And the party entertainment will be here any minute, so the kids will do that soon anyway. I think it’s OK if they’re on the trampoline for just a few minutes,” I say cheerfully, biting my tongue.

She says, “OK” with that tone of voice where the “K” part goes up an octave – like OKaaaaay, it’s on your head…

Now I’m second-guessing myself. Should I have forbidden kids on the trampoline? Was it a bad idea to have a backyard party?

I know accidents do happen, and I try to take reasonable precautions — but I don’t want to live in a constant state of paranoid panic.

Someone asks me where the ice chest is, so I hustle over and start handling other party duties.

The doorbell rings and the Sports Coaches enter. Tucker’s so excited! These Coaches run the after-school sports programs in our district – and you can hire them to run different playground games. The Coaches set out cones, flags, and various-sized balls on the sport court. The kids are hopping around, eager to start playing.

I glance in Karen’s direction to see if she’s going to grill me on liability insurance waivers in case the kids are injured while playing Capture the Flag.

Thankfully, she’s engaged elsewhere – she’s skulking around the perimeter of the yard, no doubt hunting for other hazards – poisonous mushrooms or a perhaps a rusty nail.

Meanwhile, Tucker’s grinning from ear to ear, running around the backyard with his classmates and the Coaches. We’re cheering and laughing as the kids play the games. It’s a gorgeous crisp sunny day and I’m really happy everything is going smoothly.

I slip into the house to set out the lasagna, pizza, salad, and the rest of lunch, along with some cookies in case someone prefers those to birthday cake.

Just as I set the cookies on the dining table and I’m about to relax, Karen is at my elbow saying, “Is everything here nut-free? Some people have severe allergies, you know.”

OMIGOD! She’s like the Harbinger of Doom! Honestly!

I ask through clenched teeth, “Karen, is your child allergic to nuts?”

“No,” she says, “but other people might be. Some people can die from eating nuts.” She says helpfully.

“OK, well, all the parents are here, so if one of them has a kid with a FATAL nut allergy, then they probably would have mentioned it by now,” I say, with just a teeny bit of exasperation seeping into my voice.

I am trying so hard to remain friendly and cheerful – but I swear to God, every time I turn around today, she’s like the frikkin’ Grim Reaper telling me how everyone at my party is going to die!! I’ve never been so stressed at a party in my life.

She cocks her head, shrugs, and says smugly, “Well, you never knooow…”

I stare at her. I march over to the patio, with her trailing quickly behind me.

I loudly ask the parents, “DOES ANYONE HERE HAVE AN ALLERGY TO NUTS?”

People look at me and shake their heads.

I say, “DOES ANYONE HERE DISLIKE NUTS?”

Now they look bewildered, but they still shake their heads.

I say, “WELL, THE COOKIES HAVE NUTS. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!”

And you know what else has nuts? This party. And Nut Numero Uno is Karen.

And the only person in danger of meeting her maker at this party is Karen.

Because if she says one more thing to me about drowning, fatal allergies, being paralyzed, or head injuries – or starts yakking about asbestos, choking, rusty nails, snakes, or enemy insurgents suddenly appearing in my backyard to mow people down with AK-47s, I swear to God, I will kill her.  (In the pool. While wearing a helmet. And eating nuts.)

— Darcy Perdu

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(Know any parents like Karen? How would you have handled her? Any party guests who drove you crazy? Share your tales of parties, infuriating parents, or bizarre guests!)

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22 replies on “How would YOU handle this Party Doomsayer chick?

  1. I spent a summer planning children’s birthday parties, and although I never encountered a parent like that, I once had a 6-year-old know-it-all follow me around all day, telling me how everything I did should have been done, and how much better it was at HIS birthday. I managed to stay in the conversation with a friendly tone of voice, which earned me all sorts of gold stars and extra points. Even his mother was impressed.
    Amelia recently posted..Fever (why butterflies are bastards)My Profile

  2. Katherine said:

    OMG! If I ever behave like that PLEASE PLEASE SMACK THE CRAP OUT OF ME! I mean ok yes as a mom I certainly worry excessively about my miracle child and I am the first to admit it, but that mom makes me look as nonchalant as a person can get! Darcy, I applaud your self restraint!!

    On another note I love my tshirt! As soon as I get rid of the flu from hell I promise to take Arizona pictures and send to you! Thank you again and Darcy, you are awesome — I adore you!

  3. I just love your blog! I want you to look for the video of the SNL sketch from a few years back where a mom at a birthday party starts asking if the food has High Fructose Corn Syrup in it. You will ROTFL!

  4. Well done to you, Darcy, I eventually gave up on trying to befriend my children’s friends’ parents, as I had too many bad and annoying experiences.
    Vivian recently posted..Evil TakeraparterMy Profile

  5. Ellie said:

    What about the mom you adore but the kid you can’t stand? Or you love the kid but can’t stand the mom? Or you like both of them but your OWN child has the audacity not to like one of them? Yikes, the rules and drama of mother-child friendship with other mothers-children! Just as hard as finding a couple (as in another married couple) where all four of you like each other.

    Quite frankly, I’ve given up and just continue to pursue the mother I like even if our children don’t jibe. Freaks those mothers out sometimes, and they don’t know how to handle it. I usually resort to the “Our Children Don’t Have to be Friends for Us to be Friends” Speech, but the majority of women just can’t do it.

    There are some women on this blog who have embraced our friendship wholeheartedly despite our children not being besties, and for that, you are not only “Mothers Extraordinaire” but “Women Extraordinaire!”

    And PS for those of you curious: sometimes it’s my child who doesn’t like theirs and sometimes it’s their child who doesn’t like mine. Could go either way. But if I like you, I like you!!

    • Sonjia said:

      LOL, I had my child young, so most of the women my age have children who are school age. I get that why do you want to be friends? Our kids aren’t even close in age thing alot.

      I’m like you — if I like someone, I want to hang out with them.

  6. Kristin the farmer said:

    Wow. I would have smacked her, and told her she needed a permanent helmet. And by the way, the netting on the trampoline doesn’t help hold the kid in. My daughter fell through the netting on mybrother’s trampoline and hit her head on the large rocks my brother put around it. She got 7 staples. And what’s funnier……we have a trampoline with no net — and she has never hurt herself on our trampoline!

  7. Judy said:

    I wanted to kill her for you long before the nut started asking about nuts. Oh my gosh. I feel bad for her kid, you know. Sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to have parents who took an interest in my life and now I know they could have been like this!!!! Gimme the inattentive ones any day–build character and not a lily-livered whining quivering character either.

  8. Caitlin said:

    I’m a step-parent, and the gerbil’s mother thinks that we don’t know anything about raising children. Apparently, we’ve never heard of tylenol, children’s zyrtec, or how to administer an inhaler. You’d think we simply handed the kiddo a bottle of ASPIRIN and told her to treat herself. I’m an oldest child; I work in a hospital and I’ve had first aid training. I’m sure one day my eyeballs will get stuck in the back of my head from rolling.
    My personal favorite has to be the time we told her mom that we’d given her a hit off the inhaler, and were informed that we shouldn’t refer to it as such because she (the mom) didn’t want people to think she was a drug addict.

  9. Heh, I’ve dealt with anxious parents, but not as bad as this mom. My hat off to you for handling it so eloquently.

    About Ellie’s comment above:

    I’ve done the same as you. One of my best friends today is one of those. Our boys were good friends when they were in kindergarden, but as they grew older they grew apart and now they don’t really speak to each other at all. We just don’t care and although my son doesn’t like her son, he adores my friend and I still get hugs whenever I meet her son.
    Cara(Eli) recently posted..Georg has more friends than IMy Profile

  10. I haven’t experienced this, but I did have some kids in my backyard–uninvited–one day while the adults were working on a home improvement project. One of the kids pushed my son into the open pool that had just been uncovered since it was early April. When we called the parent and told them they needed to retrieve their uninvited child from our yard pronto, she proceeded to lecture me that I should have expected that to happen. Yeah–whatever!

  11. I haven’t personally met anyone like this but I have heard about them a lot. You are very patient. I’d have exploded by the time she mentioned the trampoline!
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  12. Steve J said:

    Ok, this one definitely wins the Academy Award of So Then… Stories.

    Priceless!

  13. You should keep a safe distance between you and this woman, Karen. She is not good for your health and if you snap and kill her, you will be doing serious time for killing somebody that is totally worthless to you. If you kill her and she turns out to have been a pretty good old gal, you will be in the slammer living with the guilt that you killed someone that was okay. I wouldn’t take the chance if I were you.

    She was pretty lucky. I would have gone ahead and killed her.
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  14. SoFi said:

    Poor kid, he will never be invited back to your “fun” house again…

    • Good point, that probably does happen — but I did have that kid back to my house again to play — just WITHOUT his mother! :)

  15. Stephanie said:

    I think you should have gone over to her when she was near the porch stairs and said “Oh my goodness, I just realized that the kids could trip and fall on these stairs. They are only in 4th grade you know. Do you think you could stand here and hold their hands when they go up? Safety first…”

    • Fabulous!! That’s quite brilliant actually!
      I should have made up some safety-related task like that! It would’ve kept her occupied for hours!

    • Bwahaha! I LOVE this solution!
      I need to invite you to all my parties! Whenever someone’s annoying, I’ll just catch your eye, arch my eyebrow, and nod toward that person.
      Then we’re off to the swamp! :o)

  16. I think you have far more patience than I would have. I think after the peanut comment I would have told her “you know, Karen, I really think this kind of party is not your cup of tea. I think you’d feel more comfortable if you just took little (insert 4th grader name here) home, where it’s safe, now I have 24 other kids to supervise so if you’ll excuse me your coat is over THERE!” But I’m not as nice as you I guess!

    • Ha! Yes! Angela, I was SO close to saying something like that! She stressed me out so much!