Oh, golly. This party dilemma raises so many issues. Should you drop-and-run at a kids’ party? Are you responsible for children you invite until the very last parent returns? Doesn’t it take a village? Read on …
Don’t be tardy
“Do you not leave kids unattended at a birthday party unless you’ve discussed it with the host beforehand?” a mother asked via hugely popular parenting forum Mumsnet. She had thrown a party for her four-year-old son and a whole lot of drama went down.
The mum explained that she’d been happy for party guests to bring siblings along to the play centre party. They just had to pay their own entry fee and they couldn’t come into the party room for lunch. She realised that one guest had brought an older sibling when the little girl approached her crying twenty minutes into the party.
She “tells me her mum told her to come to me if she needed anything. I continued looking for her mum and she then tells me that ‘mummy has gone to the shops’. I wasn’t too bothered at that point, and thought she perhaps needed something urgently, although [she] still should have let me know.”
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The little girl settled down and all was well at this point. Around half an hour later it was time for party food in the party room. The unaccompanied children’s mum still wasn’t back.
“Her eldest [daughter] was crying because she couldn’t come in and she was now being left in the play area unsupervised.”
The party-host mum informed the play centre staff of what was going on. She then tried to get in touch with the mum by phone – to no avail. Things were going from bad to worse because she was under a time crunch. Her own mum was waiting at home with party host mum’s six-month-old baby and needed to be relieved of her babysitting duties so she could go to work.
“The party came to an end and she still wasn’t back and still wasn’t returning my call,” party-host mum explains. “The staff said they could keep the kids but would have to call the police. I thought this was the best scenario as I obviously couldn’t take them with me, and god forbid if anything had happened to their mum then at least the police would find out.”
Once party-host mum arrived home she finally received a call from the frantic and distressed mum who had left her kids.
“She was shouting and bawling at me!” party-host mum writes. “She couldn’t believe I over-reacted so much and just left her kids as she’d only gone to get her hair done. Apparently I should’ve known she would be back.”
The sneaky drop-off mum was super upset that the police had been involved.
“They gave her a talking to about leaving the kids without telling anyone and she was lucky social services hadn’t been called,” party-host mum explained.
Apparently, the mum who dropped her kids off thought party-host mum should have realised she was not going to be far away, and had assumed other parents would ‘drop and run’ too.
Fair enough or OTT?
Drop-off mum told party-host mum that she “could’ve at least taken the kids home with me instead of ‘showing her up’ like that.”
But the party-host mum said she was thinking bigger picture.
“What if something happened to her? Or the kids while she was gone? What if she just never came back?”
But the drop-off mum was not having it and promptly hung up on her. Drop-off mum wonders if she’s done the wrong thing or behaved perfectly appropriately.
Commenters on the thread had lots of different opinions on this difficult and drama-filled dilemma.
“Truly shocking behaviour”
Some wondered why this even had to escalate like this:
“Why didn’t you let the sibling come in and share the food or just her sibling’s food if plated up,” one forum user posted. “I would never leave a child alone to prove a point even though the mother was wrong. Neither of you come across well.”
“She was cheeky but my god you were incredibly cruel 1- not allowing the sibling into the party room and 2- leaving them behind for the police to be called. They must have been terrified, truly shocking behaviour on your part!” a commenter asserted.
“I can’t believe she left them, but I can’t believe you did either,” another wrote.
Good one, party-host mum
But many parents thought she had done the right thing:
“Why should [party-host mum] have stayed? Not her kids and not her responsibility other than making venue staff aware surely?! It’s not as if the other kids’ mum is nothing other than a vague acquaintance and she was not contactable, she could’ve had an accident, the police were the sensible option.”
“She rang the mum for an hour. She had no way of knowing mum was coming back. Child neglect and abuse is often not picked up quickly because people minimise and excuse. [She] did exactly the right thing by contacting the police.”