This is late coming, but thought you might enjoy it.

On Valentine’s Day, I was room mother in charge of the party and the refreshments.

There were 5 other moms who said they would help. In plenty of time, I called each one and put each in charge of something: one mom in charge of games, one in charge of paper goods, one in charge of a take home favor, and me in charge of the refreshment (which where we live still consists of something gooey like a cupcake and chocolate!) One mom I could not get in touch with at all.

On the day of the party, I got there early to set up. Already there was 2 dozen cupcakes sent by the mom I could not get in touch with. There was one huge tray of cookie-store decorated theme cookies (think wildly expensive) sent by another mom, a new child in the class had also been sent to school with 2 dozen cupcakes, and yet another had sent in the right number of chocolate something -or-another, in addition to the 2 dozen cupcakes I had brought and the special suckers I had gotten for the group.

The teacher and I had a good laugh about it, and was able to bundle up all the extra food and send home with the kids, along with keeping an extra set of cupcakes for snack time the next day. We did double check to make sure no other classrooms were short on goodies, and even shared a lot of the goods with the office and janitorial staff. While I was kind of perturbed that as the head room mom I had put in lots of time trying to get things sorted out reasonably as far as supplies and food, and the other moms had just sent things without asking, it wasn’t that big of a deal.

Until, I started hearing from the other moms. The “cookie-store” mom was really upset because her child was upset that she had’t been able to pass out her cookies and have the class eat them.Apparently this had been a long standing tradition for her child and everyone (but me) knew about it and it was wrong that she hadn’t gotten to pass these out. The mom of the new child was also worried because her offering was meant as some sort of ice breaker for her child and was upset that her child hadn’t gotten to pass them out and get to know the other kids (sounded like a popularity thing to me). The mom whom I hadn’t been able to contact wanted to know what had happened to her cupcakes if the kids hadn’t gotten to eat them? I got a number of phone calls from both mothers and the teacher, who had also been getting calls from the mothers. Even after explaining about the tons of food that moms had sent in (without checking with the teacher, or me) they just kept venting to me about it.

That was the last time I volunteered to room mother. 0214-11

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Tacky Tourists In A Strange Land

by admin on May 22, 2017

Several years ago, my sister’s husband was stationed in Germany with the Air Force. He was born in Austria, so spoke perfect German. They and their 18 month old baby were living off base in a small town, where most of the residents spoke only a little English, so my sister became fluent in German within a very short time.

My mother and I went over to visit one September while they were there. My brother-in-law had to spend a few days on rotation on the base, so the rest of us took a trip to some surrounding areas. These included a small castle that gave several tours each hour. These tours were mostly in German, with one tour per hour given in English. There was a sign posted at the ticket office that explained this and stated that no other tours would be given in English, just the one each hour. We arrived shortly after the English tour had left, and would have had to wait another hour before the next English tour. However, because my sister spoke German rather well, we decided to join one of the regular tours and she would translate for the rest of us.

Another American couple also joined this tour. We assumed, and so did the tour guide, that this couple also spoke German well enough to understand the basics. However, the guide had barely started the tour and was getting ready to move to the next area when the man from the second couple started yelling that she needed to give them the tour in English. The guide explained, in perfect English, that this was not an English tour, she could not give the tour in English because most of the rest of the tour could not understand her, and the couple was invited to wait for the next English tour. But the man continued to yell that he needed the tour in English, that they had paid good money for a tour now. If I remember correctly, my sister even offered to include them in her translation, but that wasn’t good enough for the man, he wanted the information from the guide. The guide then said that she would give them a translation after she had given the German rendition, which the man accepted. However, we soon realized that she was giving the man a very abbreviated version of her German rendition, because she still had to get the tour moving at the proper speed, which didn’t allow for two full renditions. There were still a couple of times when the next tour had to wait for us to finish up with a room and move on before they could come in.

After the tour, we gave the guide her tip, thanked her very much for her patience, and apologized for the actions of the other Americans because we didn’t want her to think that all Americans were like that. She appreciated that, and even gave us a little souvenir in return. 0201-11

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Odd Mom Behavior

by admin on May 18, 2017

When I was 7 or 8 I became very good friends with a girl named “Mary”. She was a year younger than me, and her mother was somewhere around her mid-thirties. We were often at each others’ houses whether on weekdays or weekends. Our mothers, while not friends, were friendly and trusted each other. If Mary was at my house and my mother was going somewhere, she’d take us with her. If Mary’s mother was going out, she’d do the same. If one of our mothers saw an item of clothing or other item that was unique or useful, she would pick one up for the other child. If we went out to eat, the other child came along. If we had dinner while one was at the other’s house, they would have dinner too. It was a nice setup, and many happy memories were built around my time with Mary. I should add that these were the days before play dates and helicopter parenting.

When Mary’s mother took us out, we’d always be home by 6 or 7pm at the very latest. Usually 6pm for dinner reasons. These were all car trips, and most of them were on school nights. However, one weeknight during the school year, we didn’t get home by 6pm. Or 7. In fact, as the evening rolled around, we kept going and ended up at one of Mary’s relatives houses. I was okay, but as the clock ticked, I started to feel a bit weird. I assumed that Mary’s mother would ask me for my house number so she could phone my mother or grandmother to say we’d be late. She didn’t. This was in the days before cell phones, so a payphone or a house phone was the only chance to make a call. If I recall correctly, all I had said to my grandmother was that I’d be at a friend’s house, so I wasn’t even sure my family would have figured out I was with Mary without their making calls to my friends’ houses. Mary’s parent’s were separated for a while, so no one would have answered their home phone if my family called. I hoped they’d figure things out from this.

I was too afraid at that age to ask what was going on or why Mary’s mother wasn’t calling my family. I also was very hungry as we hadn’t eaten. This was out of character for her to keep me so late, and I was confused. She was visiting with her relatives while Mary and I chatted to other children, and remember, I trusted Mary’s mother. I didn’t want to upset her by questioning her.

We left the relatives after 10pm and I thought we were finally going home. By this point I was very worried and starting to feel shaky. However, since I thought we were finally going home, I thought all was well. Unfortunately, it wasn’t.

At 11pm we ended up at a restaurant where a number of people that Mary’s mother knew or were related to were gathering (maybe 10 or so). It was just a casual get together, nothing more. However, I was starting to become so nervous that I started to feel sick. I started worrying about being yelled at, and about school the next day. At 8 I was thinking these things but too afraid or unable to vocalize it. So it came out as illness instead. I started to have bad stomach pains and other worry related pains that I couldn’t understand at that age. Near 11:30pm it became so bad that Mary’s mother got flustered with me and told one of her friends what to order for her so said could take me home. I have a very clear memory of Mary comforting me, but her mother acting as if I was a pest.

When we got in the car, I realized Mary’s mother was angry. Very angry. She took me in the car alone to my house (not very far, but at the time I had absolutely no clue where we even were!). She stayed silent the entire time and had a face like stone. I got home and my family was relieved, but very confused by Mary’s mother’s actions. I remember them chatting about it and not understanding why she did what she had.

The next time I saw Mary, she told me her mother was very angry at me and that she would NEVER take me anywhere again. I couldn’t believe it because even at that age I knew she was at fault. When I saw her mother later that day, she was very cold to me, but I figured that would fade as she was angry at herself. I felt she had to be! I don’t know if my mother spoke to Mary’s mother about this or not, but I know she didn’t tell Mary’s mother I could no longer go anywhere with them as she would have told me the same thing and told me never to get in a car with her again.

The next time Mary and her mother were going to go somewhere while I was over at their house (within a week or two of the late night incident), Mary’s mother told me they were going somewhere so I had to go home. I did so, feeling very hurt and very much like I was guilty of something. I felt ashamed almost, as if she wanted me to feel guilty for something I knew was not my fault.

This continued and Mary’s mother would send me home when they went somewhere and was always cold to me. It hurt me horribly. Strangely, I started seeing less of Mary. She wasn’t there at our usual times as much. I don’t know if that was done on purpose by her mother or not, but I knew something wasn’t right and it hurt. The next year when Mary turned 9 I was invited to a party at a roller rink, and they did take me in their car (along with a number of other children), but Mary’s mother was still cold despite a few happy words to me due to it being Mary’s birthday. By this time Mary didn’t seem to be that concerned with me as a friend since we didn’t see each other much anymore. Unfortunately, for a short while after the birthday party I was praying that Mary’s mother had forgiven me due to having driven me to the party, and that things would return to normal. I recall trying to see Mary a bit more than usual, but things didn’t snap back.

I saw Mary sporadically (it was harder and harder to catch her!), and only found out that she’d moved when I went to her house one day and someone else came out saying that they were the new owners. I later went to a little store Mary’s mother had owned so I could find out where they went, but she had apparently sold it and none of the new employees knew who she was. That was the end of things.

I did see Mary once more years later. She was a late arrival at my high school and spotted me (she was a Freshman, I was a Sophomore). We said a few words, but I felt funny and uncomfortable around her. She was so different to me by this point and I still felt shamed by her mother. Strangely, despite it being a school of only about 400 students, I never saw her again after our brief re-introduction!

I’ve often wondered what was going through her mother’s mind that day we were out all night, but I’ve never figured it out. The fact that she punished an 8 year old girl due to her mistake and ruined her daughter’s friendship due to it boggles me. She was never somebody who seemed to be excessively prideful, but somehow this incident hit a nerve of hers. 0109-11

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In the new trend called “sologamy,” women are committing themselves to themselves with their own wedding ceremony. These women, such as self-styled “sologamist” Erika Anderson, throw on a white gown, invite their close friends and family and marry themselves in a legally nonbinding way.

“I would describe it as women saying yes to themselves,” Anderson, 37, explained in a WUSA9 article. “It means that we are enough, even if we are not partnered with someone else.    “You’re worth it!” she added.  Anderson tied the knot to herself in New York City and advocates for the self-marriage lifestyle.    “Anderson said she grew tired of people asking why she was still single. So, in front of family and friends she married herself,” notes WUSA9.

The trend has grown within the United States and has even gone international.  A site, appropriately named ImarriedMe.com, is looking to capitalize on the trend by offering a kit to assist you in planning your own wedding ceremony, “self-wedding” rings and daily self-affirmation cards.   “A self-wedding is a symbolic ceremony–about reconnecting and staying connected with you. Wear the ring to remind you every day to LOVE YOURSELF,” says the site.   The higher-end “I Married Me Self-Wedding In-A-Box” kits cost $230.   There’s also a company in Canada called “Marry Yourself Vancouver,” which offers photography and consulting.

My thoughts on this trend is to be skeptical of any occasion that deliberately draws attention to a person’s need to be affirmed or validated as “worth it”.   Relying on external sources to validate your worth reveals a shaky foundation that can change or collapse on a whim whereas having an internal source of one’s own value transcends the need for artificial events like a self wedding to make a point.

And knowing how the wedding industry works like I do, it is merely a matter of time before gift registries become firmly associated with a solo wedding.   You plan your own ceremony, your own vows, wear a white dress and flowers, invite guests and, of course, register for all the gifts.   I will state here and now that no one is obligated to give a “wedding” present to someone engaging in a sologamy ceremony.

 

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Counting Photographs

by admin on May 16, 2017

I’m not sure if this even qualifies as an etiquette breach, but it’s certainly strange.

My SIL used to be a relatively normal, fun lady. We were close. Over the years, she’s become more and more like my MIL, which means that her brother (my husband) and I find less and less that we have in common.

DH called her a few nights ago to wish her happy Chanukkah. He’s been working horrible hours and called her from the car after a 14 hour day.

She proceeds to berate him for not calling often enough lately, not calling fast enough to hear about her new job and being very negative in general. Then comes the kicker. She’s upset that we don’t have enough pictures of her family in our house. He, being way nicer than I am, tells her that there are pictures of her family in my daughters’ bedrooms. However, she said that there weren’t any downstairs, which shows that we don’t really care about her. He was shocked into silence. She was last here in August, which means that she’s been stewing about this for four months and that she looked for the pictures while she was here.

What’s worse is that we really don’t have many family pictures in the house. My computer is set to do a slide show of all of my photographs, and it can be seen from most of the downstairs. Pictures of all of our friends and family regularly appear on my computer screen and we often find ourselves standing by the computer to watch the photos change.

I’m not nearly as nice as DH so I’m just not going to call her for a while. I didn’t realize that there were rules about how many pictures needed to be displayed of family downstairs versus upstairs. 1206-2010

I’m in trouble because in my entire house there is only one montage of photos on the wall.

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My daughter (Lucy) is turning seven and we decided to throw a small party for some of her friends. We booked a local party centre, and sent out invitations to 11 children about two weeks in advance. The party centre requires a minimum of 10 children; if less than 10 attend you are still billed for 10, so we figured 12 (including Lucy) was a manageable amount plus it gave us some leeway if not everyone could make it. Lucy has friends of both genders, so she invited 5 girls and 6 boys.

The responses came trickling in, and 10 children responded ‘yes’ – including Lucy this gave us 11, 6 girls and 5 boys, a comfortable mix I thought.

Three days before the party, a boy in Lucy’s class (H) sent out invitations for a ‘boys-only’ superhero party to be held on the same day / time as Lucy’s. Not a big deal I thought, we don’t have the right to claim a particular day for a party. The following day, the mother of one of the boys who had said they were coming to Lucy’s party emailed me to say that her son would now not be coming as he’d prefer to attend H’s party – she was sure I’d understand.

I did understand of course, but I was a bit miffed; I was taught that a positive reply to an invitation meant you were coming providing there wasn’t an emergency – not providing something better didn’t come along! This also turned out to be just the beginning as over the next 24 hours 2 more boys dropped out, citing H’s party as the reason.

I was left with a dilemma. Firstly, I was bound to pay for a party of 10 which now only had 8 attending. With only two days until the party, it was too late to invite more guests without it being obvious they were on the ‘B’ list, so I decided to suck it up and pay for the 10. Slightly annoying but no big deal.

Secondly, this also meant that the two boys who had said yes and stuck to it were now going to be outnumbered by the girls. I didn’t think we needed an exactly equal number, but I did feel sorry at the thought of two boys (both heavily into football and traditional boys’ toys) stuck with 6 girls, all of whom are into pink, glitter and princesses… I just felt bad that the boys who were taught to fulfil their commitments probably wouldn’t have a particularly good time.

A bit of creative thinking and we invited a slightly older boy from another class (a friend of Lucy’s whose parents we know well, but one who would never expect to be invited) – he and his parents were so touched that we’d invited him, thankfully the idea of a B list didn’t rear its head. This has evened things up slightly. I’ve also bought some extra ‘boy-stuff’ to add to the party decorations to make it a bit less girl-centric.

The party is this weekend so we shall see how it goes. I’m sure I’m over-thinking things and everyone will play well together and just enjoy themselves (I have found in the past that us parents get much more caught up on this stuff than the kids who just get on with it). But for future reference, does anyone have any suggestions on how to deal with stuff like this? We could have a ‘girls only’ party but Lucy has male friends too and it seems mean to exclude them. Invite lots more children (and run the risk of everyone saying yes and having an unmanageable amount and lots of extra expense)? Also, is there a dignified way to handle the parents who contacted me to say their kids had changed their minds? I suppose I should be happy that at least they had the decency to contact me rather than just not turn up!  1002-15

This is a great way to train children to be social pariahs.  Why bother inviting someone to your party if you know, for a fact, that they will leave you for an better offer that happens to come up? I don’t extend further invitations to people who treat my hospitality with such obvious disdain.

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Feel Good Friday – The World’s Toughest Job

May 12, 2017

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Wedding Wednesday – The Non-Invitation Invitation

May 10, 2017

This particular individual is an acquaintance of mine, so I did not actually receive this “invitation.” I saw it when she proudly posted a picture of it on Facebook with a caption saying (paraphrasing), “All these years and people are still mad about this. Oh well, I thought it was funny!” A few friends commented […]

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