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.


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


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!)

How would YOU handle a mom like this at your kid's party? #funny

Complete Invasion of Privacy!

They really DO NOT like what we're doing in the backyard -- but how did they even find out?  Complete invasion of privacy!  #funny #they'rewatching #humor

So then…I answer the phone and a voice says, “Do you have a trampoline in your backyard?”

Actually, I do. But now that someone’s asking, I’m suddenly, inexplicably nervous about admitting it.

“Who is this?” I ask.

“This is Jean at Harry’s office. You asked us to re-quote your car and home insurance.”

“Oh, right, right.” I recall now that I asked our insurance broker to check for lower premiums.

“It’s still out to bid,” she says. “But one of the insurance companies asked me if that’s a trampoline in your backyard.”

“Um, why are they asking?” I ask suspiciously.

“Some insurance companies charge higher premiums for that – and some won’t even write policies for homes with trampolines because they’re so dangerous,” she explains.

Suddenly I feel guilty that I’ve allowed my kids to gleefully jump, flip, roll, and twirl on that trampoline for years. It has a huge netting enclosure so I think it’s pretty safe – and so far, no injuries. Plus they’ve enjoyed lots of bouncing, laughing, exercise-filled fun in the great outdoors, so that assuages my guilt a bit.

But the mildly accusatory tone of the question makes me uneasy about admitting it, especially now that I’ve learned it may affect my premiums.

I ask a bit defensively, “Why do they suspect I have a trampoline anyway?”

She says, “Oh, they Google-mapped your house. On the computer, they looked at an aerial view of your backyard, front yard, the house, driveway, everything.”

“What? Are you kidding me? They’re looking at aerial photos of my home? That’s an invasion of privacy!” I object.

“Oh, all the insurance companies do that now. Aerial photos make it easy for them to spot any trouble before they write policies. They typically do a drive-by in person too, but the aerial photos save a lot of time to eliminate bad prospects right away.”

I’m outraged! This is sounding very Big Brother-y to me.

Now I have to worry about what we happen to be doing outside when the satellite cameras pass overhead?

What’s next? Will the insurance companies ask me:

Hey, are those your kids playing with matches on the front steps? Fire Insurance: denied.

Are you chasing a bee swarm with a blowtorch? Insurance denied.

Is that you skinny-dipping in the pool? Insurance denied.

Are those beer bottles strewn around your backyard while you and your friends try to build a tree house in a palm tree? Insurance denied.

Why is there a motorcycle in the pool? Insurance denied.

I’m not saying these things happened – but if they did happen, that’s MY business!

I’m just totally freaked out by the idea that someone can be sitting miles away in a little office watching what’s going on in my backyard on their computer screen. And how can they not be super judgy? Are they sitting there saying things like:

Darcy, is that your third glass of wine?

Do you really need to spend that much time “training” the cute new pool guy?

That honeysuckle bush needs watering.

And what if they perfect thermal imaging so insurance companies can see what we’re doing INSIDE the house?

Is that you sneaking Ben & Jerry’s ice cream at midnight when we specifically heard on our listening device that you swore to your family there was no ice cream left? Insurance denied.

Is that you giving us the finger? Insurance denied.

“So,” Jean says, bringing me back to the present. “DO you have a trampoline?”

“That’s what they think, huh?” I hedge.

“Yeah, they said they saw a big dark circle on the aerial photo of the backyard, so they figured it was a trampoline,” she says.

“Maybe it’s a moon crater.”

“Huh?” she says.

“Or like a really big black round blanket I’m knitting for an orphanage.”

“Darcy–,” she says.

“Yeah, OK, it’s a trampoline, dammit. And yes, I will get rid of the trampoline. If that will make them happy! It won’t make my kids happy, I’ll tell you that. And I’m totally blaming it on the insurance company!”

So I break the news to the kids, but they’re not too upset since they’ve had several good years on the trampoline and have started to outgrow it anyway.

I then explain to them in elaborate detail how insurance companies can basically see anything that’s happening in our yard and driveway and possibly home – and that they’ll report back to me any suspicious behavior perpetrated by my children.

They don’t believe me. Rubes.

Meanwhile I consider thwarting the thermal imaging sensors when I dip into my secret Ben & Jerry’s stash by wearing a tinfoil suit.

— Darcy Perdu

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(Can you share a related story about invasion of privacy or something that seems Big Brother-ish? Any funny stories about Google maps, satellite photos, insurance, tinfoil suits?)


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