Today I walked out on a child's birthday party. Not because of the kids, but because of the adults.
BG: The child in question is my mother's estranged husband's great niece. This means mom and I aren't related at all to the family. About a year ago they decided to move up to Ohio because the child's father had gotten into a lot of trouble with the police and they wanted to make sure the child had some contact with him even if it was via a prison visiting room. They lived with us for almost 6 months which means we got close to the child. Since then mom has split up with husband, taken him back, split up again. The relationship is really rocky so weíve only had sporadic contact with his family. So when we were invited to the child's 3rd birthday party we both agreed to go. Her birthday is July 4th (Independence Day in the States) Last night we went out and got some potato salad and chips because we didn't want to go to the party empty handed so to speak. We did get the child a present as well, but mom has always taught me to bring something food wise to any outdoors gathering even if itís just a bag of chips. Mom got up and had developed an allergy thing during the night, nothing major just a runny nose and lots of watery eyes. It wasn't anything serious and she still wanted to go.
We get ready for the party that we were told was at the city park at 12pm. (we have many parks in our area but there is only one "city park") We get there and drive around looking for the pavilion with the birthday party. Most of the pavilions were empty. The park is big so it took us 20mins driving around trying to find this party. All the while we were calling trying to get a hold of someone to figure out where we were supposed to be. We finally get through and find out that the party isn't at the city park at all it's at a water park across town. Ok, fine.
We get there nearly 30mins late or so we thought. It turns out the party didn't start until 1pm they just wanted us there to help decorate. Turns out the reason why they weren't at the city park was because they failed to make a pavilion reservation. (The city park is really strict about reservations and will actively kick out parties if another family has it reserved.) So they showed up at this other park and asked this family of 4th of July/ family reunion party goers if they could use half of the pavilion that the family had reserved. They had at least 45 people plus kids at their party and weren't happy being asked to hand over half of their tables. However, the mother of the child just sort of moved in and started hanging decorations. (This all happened before we arrived.) When we arrived there was limited parking one space was available and we took it. At this point we didn't know that they hadn't reserved the pavilion and thought all the people there were for the birthday party like I said we thought we were late.
So my mom and I are conscripted into hanging decorations for a party that is now at 1. Mom sets up the table display I'm blowing up balloons and taping up streamers. After a few minutes I run out of tape and look around. I can't find the mother or child anywhere. (At this point is was only the 4 of us there) I look around and see mother and child playing in the park, leaving us to finish decorating. Mid way into our decorating the childís great grandma shows up. Sheís my momís husbandís mother. (So my step grandmother I guess?) She refuses to even talk to my mom because of the rocky relationship thing and she wonít help decorate. Fine.
Decorations are up, tables are covered, plates and plastic silverware is out. Itís now 1pm. Still nobody is there. We sit around, we wait. At 1:30 the food finally arrives along with the guests and the presents. Then they hull out two grills. Steaks, raw chicken, hot dogs, raw hamburger, and toss it all on the table.
The childís mother makes a comment while they are unloading all this that those people over there better move or sheís going to go over there and kick there butts. Mom asked her what she meant. She said that those people were sitting on her side of the pavilion and theyíd better mover or there would be someone getting hurt and it wasnít going to be her. The Family Reunion I mentioned above with all those people they noticed that nobody was using the tables for a party that hadnít even started yet and had been unused for nearly two hours. So a few of them moved over and were eating at two of the tables. We still had 6. Mom and I were both shocked. At this point we did know how childís mother had come and taken over because Mom was an acquaintance of one of the family reunion party and he had told her while we decorated.
Itís nearly 1:45 when every childís mother says she doesnít know how to start the grills. Did I know how? The guys are all over at the park or sitting around talking to the great grandmother. When I ask they give one excuse after another. I have to borrow a hair tie because I had worn it loose and itís really long and I didnít want to catch my hair on fire. So I get them lit with help from Mom and once again once the coals have reached temp I look around and nobody is there. I donít have any experience in cooking anything other than hotdogs on a grill so Mom starts opening the food, I tell mom she shouldnít be cooking because of her runny eyes and nose sheís germy. Sheís so frustrated she snaps at me and said something along the lines of nobody else is doing it. I walk off and sit in the car for about 10 mins just getting more and more pissed off at the entire situation.
Still nobody goes over to help Mom.
Mom comes over to apologize for snapping. I tell her I donít blame her itís the situation they put us in. She says they are family and nobody else is willing to cook the food and the kids were getting hungry. I tell her fine, but Iím not staying Itís BS they didnít make reservations, Itís BS they made us decorate, Itís BS they made us start the grill, and it was BS they were making their guests cook the food! If I stayed Iíd end up saying something really rude. She said she understood and I left. I ended up walking home because she couldnít leave the grill unattended and we drove together. According to her they never even said thank you for cooking the food. It was like magic once the food was done everyone suddenly showed back up again. She stayed long enough for the presents to be open then came home.
The next day I get up and they are sitting on the front porch talking with mom and telling mom how the 3 year old child had broken her leg on the trampoline after the party. I walked right by the window and lay on the couch claiming a headache. I didnít want to talk to them and I didnít want them asking why I left the party. Mom is still upset but she really loves the child so she was trying to be polite offering them coffee and juice. My patience was all worn thin and I still donít know what to say to them if they ask why I left.