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The Forlorn And Forgotten Guest

This event occurred several years ago but I still think of it from time to time and wonder if I handled it correctly.

My daughter (Miss E) was 7 years old at the time and had been invited to a classmate’s birthday party. I was recovering from surgery and unable to drive so I organized a taxi booking to pick up E and drop her at the party and collect her 2 hours later. This is not such an unusual occurrence where we lived and taxi drivers in our town were known to be very friendly and trustworthy members of the community charged with ferrying children to and from school regularly. It was only a 5 minute drive between our homes. I called the host to RSVP and mentioned the taxi arrangement only to explain why E would be presenting herself alone. The host insisted on picking up E herself despite my protests that I didn’t wish to inconvenience her while she was preparing for the party and that it was in no way any problem for me to do this. I just wanted to ensure E got to the party as she was really looking forward to it. The host mum remained insistent and said that it would make better sense to pick up E as she planned to pick up some catering just before the party and would be driving past our home anyway. I agreed and cancelled the taxi.

So, the birthday girl’s mother did not arrive to collect E who was dressed head to toe in the theme color (purple) and pacing across our porch with wrapped gift a good hour before the expected collection time. This time came and went, I tried calling the host but it went to voice mail. At the party start time I called the taxi company again only to be told that without a pre booking it would be at least a 45 minute wait. At this stage my daughter was quite forlorn, not angry, just sad and I just felt so heart broken for her.

I called a friend who dropped in that evening with her favorite take away and a movie and we had a nice night, I hoped our treat helped her feel better. On the following Monday E went off to school, with the gift, and gave it to the birthday girl who according to E explained that her mother simply forgot to pick her up.

This seemed to satisfy E but I have wondered if I should or could have done more. At the time I had considered inviting the girl out with E and I for a picnic or some other activity thinking it might show the girl that there were no hard feelings on our part but to be honest I was a bit miffed that the other parent never even contacted me let alone suggest such a solution herself. In hindsight I also realize that I should never have relied on a busy party host to do me a favor, despite her insistence, and I should have retained my booking.

Miss E is now a confident 17 yo, and has attended dozens of lovely parties since, but I now have a 2yo son and soon I’ll be back in the realm of play dates and kids party etiquette. I’d love to hear some opinions on this. 0212-16


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Just4Kicks March 2, 2016, 7:49 am

    I feel sad for your daughter that she was forgotten, especially since the other mom INSISTED on picking her up.
    I don’t think there was any malice, just busy with the party, but didn’t she/birthday girl notice that your daughter didn’t arrive? At some point, I would think that would kick in to someone’s thoughts.
    And, one more nosy question: you stated your friend came over with food and a movie, since the party was five minutes away, couldn’t you have asked your friend to please drop your girl off?

    • Michelle March 2, 2016, 9:34 am

      Since the OP says that the taxi was supposed to pick up E and bring her home 2 hours later, and that they waited an hour past the party start time for the hostess to arrive, the party would have been half-over and it would have been too late for E to be dropped off.

      This is why I dislike people who are late and don’t call/text you to let you know whats going on. You can either start the activity without them and risk “why didn’t you wait for me, I was only 5 minutes away?” or them showing up an hour later with “you should have started without me, there was no way I was going to be on time.”

    • Shalamar March 2, 2016, 9:44 am

      I wondered this myself (about the friend dropping off the daughter – unless, by that point, it was far too late for Miss E to attend the party).

    • LadyV March 2, 2016, 10:07 am

      My understanding was that the friend came over considerably after the party was over – since OP said the friend dropped in “that evening”. I would assume a party for a 7 year old would be in the afternoon.

    • Wendy B March 2, 2016, 11:05 am

      I understood that by the time the friend came, it was so late into things that taking daughter to the party would have been moot. Mom had planned for a 2 hour event. Even an hour into it would have been so late daughter would have missed out on most of the fun.

    • NostalgicGal March 2, 2016, 11:32 am

      Could have been timing. Kid parties with other kids are afternoon or daytime usually because of early bedtimes.

      I would have left the original cab reservation in place as a backup.

    • LeeLee88 March 2, 2016, 11:53 am

      The OP said the friend didn’t come around until the evening, so I’m assuming the party was probably over by then. Poor kid 🙁

    • Lacey March 2, 2016, 1:08 pm

      I wondered the same thing. Or taken the new taxi booking – wouldn’t being 45 minutes late be better than missing the whole party?

      • Kheldarson March 2, 2016, 4:23 pm

        She called for a taxi after the daughter waited an hour. So by the time it showed up, there would be 15 minutes left of the party.

        • CJ March 3, 2016, 9:21 am

          “At the party start time I called the taxi company again only to be told that without a pre booking it would be at least a 45 minute wait.”

          Her daughter was ready an hour early.

    • JAN March 2, 2016, 1:28 pm

      I believed she said the friend dropped in that evening, so presumably after the party.

    • Amanda H. March 2, 2016, 3:53 pm

      I got the impression that the food and movie happened later (and the story does say that the friend “dropped in that evening”), so the friend might not have been available in the moment to give a ride. I know there are times when I can call my husband at work to request a favor for later, and he’ll do it after he gets off work. Doesn’t make him any more available at the moment that I call.

      I, too, wonder why no one at the party noticed Miss E’s absence, and feel sad for her too. It’s never fun to be forgotten by someone you’re relying on.

    • Melanie March 4, 2016, 10:22 pm

      OP here, I really appreciate all the feedback, as I mentioned it has been bothering me for years so it’s quite a relief. It is correct that my friend was not available to come any earlier than they did and I was also new to the neighborhood and didn’t know anyone else I could ask.

      The code theory is interesting. I am very straightforward myself but I think it’s reasonable that the party mum might have thought i was hinting for a ride. However, I am not sure that she has deliberately forgotten as a form of punishment, i think that would be unimaginably cruel.

      I’m not really worried that this exact type of scenario will happen in the future but I still fret about adults being rude to children and hurting their feelings. While I think I know how to make them feel better and minimize any hits to self-esteem and confidence I am never sure if I should say anything to the offending party and if doing so would make me just as rude.

  • Kamatari March 2, 2016, 7:58 am

    Depending on how good the area is (which sounds good since the taxi drivers are trusted with children), I might have let Miss E walk there with her/my/a cell phone, while talking to me on it the whole walk there. You did say the place was only a 5 minute drive away? So maybe it would take her 15 or 20 minutes. It would be a good trust exercise for her. Other than that, I feel there is nothing more you really could have done.

    It annoys me greatly when I have plans made already, then someone else butts in and tells me they can do it for me. If I need an alternate solution, then I’ll ask you if you can help me!

    • Willynilly March 2, 2016, 9:23 am

      A 5 minute drive could easily be over a mile or 2 away. Most adults do not comfortably walk a 15 minute mile, more like 20. A lone 7 year old would probably take twice that… if they even know the way.
      And this was 10 years ago, so it’s possible a cell phone was not as commonly just handed over to a child, not to mention a 30-40 call, twice (to and from) might be exorbitantly expensive. (Plus it’s actually generally considered unsafe to use a cell phone while walking as it is a distraction from the surroundings.)

      • Willynilly March 2, 2016, 4:26 pm

        After typing this I took my own kids to playgroup. My dashboard clock said 10:35, the last 2 digits on my odometer were 4.9. I arrived at playgroup at 10:41, the last two digits were 7.4. So 2 and a half miles in 6 minutes. Even if a 7 year old could safely walk that, it would take so long they would essentially miss the whole party… and then there is the walk home again.

    • LadyV March 2, 2016, 10:09 am

      I’d agree with this if not for the fact that you hear and see so many stories about people calling the police because they see young children walking places on their own.

    • AnaMaria March 2, 2016, 10:28 am

      Can’t speak for the OP, but walking might have involved dangerous streets or interstates, or bitterly cold temperatures. I live in a nice suburban area, but I often have to drive to places just a mile away because there’s no safe pedestrian route to walk there.

      • Rosie B. March 5, 2016, 2:13 am

        I agree–I live less than a mile away from my place of employment, but I never walk to work because it’s along the highway. Seven seems a bit young to walk that far alone, anyway.

  • Jewel March 2, 2016, 8:08 am

    When the birthday girl’s mother realized what she had done, she should have immediately called you and your daughter to profusely apologize. That she left her daughter to handle the issue (and not well at all) Monday at school is awful. Shame on her.

    • mark March 2, 2016, 8:58 am

      This is an excellent point. At least have the courtesy to apologize personally.

    • Shoebox March 2, 2016, 9:58 am

      Agreed totally. Forgetting a peripheral errand under the circs is understandable (especially since it’s not likely host mum knew any of the guests well enough even to realise that one was missing)… but refusal to acknowledge the hurt caused afterwards is inexcusable. Any halfway-functional adult should be able to empathize with a little girl left out of a party, and desire to make amends.

    • Mizz Etiquette March 2, 2016, 10:01 am


    • Amanda H. March 2, 2016, 4:00 pm

      This exactly. My husband and I recently had a date go slightly awry because the mother of the babysitter we’d arranged wrote the wrong time on her schedule, and she was her daughter’s only ride. She ended up dropping our babysitter off late and we missed the start-time of the movie (luckily we hadn’t pre-purchased tickets) and had to reschedule for later that day, throwing our schedule off a bit. The difference? The babysitter’s mother had the grace to apologize to us, as well as thank us for giving her daughter a second chance to babysit for us so we could enjoy a date. She owned her mistake.

      By the sound of things, Birthday Girl’s mom never owned her mistake, and that’s the part that would grind my gears most.

  • mark March 2, 2016, 8:49 am

    I’m going to respond just to the ride part off this. I detest being dependant on others that I don’t know well for transportation. I like being on time and I like leaving on time. And I’ve been in fear for my life a couple of times when they turned out to be awful drivers. With my kids I have another concern. I’m a stickler for seatbelts. I let a neighbor take a couple of my kids somewhere, I found out later he jammed more kids in the car then there were seatbelts.

    • Rebecca March 3, 2016, 12:28 am

      Good point; I don’t even have kids but I get nervous about accepting rides from people whose driving habits I don’t know. I might know THEM, but if I haven’t seen how they drive I am nervous, because too many times I’ve got in a car with an acquaintance only to find they drove really dangerously. (Speeding, following too closely, sudden unpredictable lane changes, blasting through stop signs, etc.).

    • Michelleprieur March 3, 2016, 7:33 pm

      I’m confused by your comment. I have no doubt that the OP didn’t enjoy surgery or not being able to drive. Your implying that she asked the other mother to give her child a ride and she was dependent on others for rides. That’s incorrect. It’s also a bit over the top to be that concerned about a neighbor, who the OP obviously knows, to drive the child less than5 minutes.

  • Shalamar March 2, 2016, 9:47 am

    I used to have a friend who was a bit like that. I’d come up with a suggestion, she’d say “Oh, no, let’s do (blah) instead” – and then (blah) would never happen. Example: when our daughters (who were friends) were about 10 years old, I found out about a cool program that the local Parks & Rec was offering for kids their age. It was a cooking class held on Friday nights. The idea was that the kids would learn to cook something fairly simple, then watch a movie while eating what they’d made. I asked Friend if her daughter would like to do this with mine (my daughter was very excited about the idea). Friend said “Oh, let’s not do that – why not have your daughter come to my house on Fridays instead? She and my daughter can cook something and have a sleepover. It’ll be cheaper and more fun!” I thought that sounded pretty good, and my daughter was agreeable, so that’s what we did – for exactly one Friday. After that, Friend was always busy on Fridays, and it never happened again.

    • Ella March 4, 2016, 3:23 pm

      I’d have just continued on with the class. A great opportunity for her to socialize with new people and learn something was missed.

  • Lara March 2, 2016, 10:04 am

    If the party was two hours long, it seems like it might have been worth while to wait for the taxi–even half a party is better than no party. I also wonder if there was anyone you knew in the neighborhood whom you could have called to come pick your girl up and drive her over, since it was so close. In any case, though, that mother was completely to blame, not only for forgetting, but for not calling to apologize and doing everything she could to make it up to you and your daughter. If I had been in her place, had offered to pick a child up and then forgot about until after the party, I would have come over with left over cake and balloons and party favors, and then invited the child over to our house or out with us for the evening to a movie or something, to make up for missing the party. I realize the mom might have been embarrassed, but that’s no excuse for just ignoring her mistake.

    • Becca March 2, 2016, 4:23 pm

      It’s a child’s party so arriving that late would have been a stress on the kid. You’d arrive in the middle of their third party game or when the birthday girl was opening presents? How awkward to say the least!

      It’s rather unsettling to think that anyone would call around for a ride for a party, unless you knew someone extremely well that’s a big favor. I live in an extremely safe neighborhood and have always had comfortable surroundings but never have had more than a casual relationship with neighbors. Certainly not enough to ask favors for anything that wasn’t an emergency situation. Perhaps that’s my anti-social behavior leaking out though.

      • monkeys mommy March 2, 2016, 11:32 pm

        How is asking a neighbor or friend for a ride when you have had surgery “unsettling”? What an odd statement…

        • Becca March 3, 2016, 11:10 am

          If she was asking for a ride to the store or something related to a necessity post surgery, that would make all the sense in the world to ask an acquaintance for assistance getting to and from. Carting your kids around to a social engagement is actually rude in my opinion. That’s putting someone out for something, that’s why I figure the OP’s first instinct was to pay a taxi, the business that is designed for this sort of thing instead of asking another parent to carry the burden.

          • Michelleprieur March 3, 2016, 7:30 pm

            The OP didn’t ask the mother to “cart her child”. She offered.

          • Jessica March 17, 2016, 1:22 pm

            Michelleprier I think this comment was referring to asking someone else for a ride for the child as a favour AFTER the mother of the brithday girl did not show up.

        • Kate March 3, 2016, 11:48 am

          Everywhere I have lived no one has really known who their neighbors are. They might know their names, or have a vague idea about who lives there (2 adults, 1 kid), or know 1 or 2 neighbors in passing. I have lived in the country, the suburbs, (east coast) and the city (west coast).

          Unless I knew someone really well, as more than an acquaintance, as a friend, I wouldn’t trust them with my kid.

          • Jays March 3, 2016, 9:12 pm

            I have a 7-year-old and there are very, very few people I’d trust to drive him somewhere without me. Definitely no one just “around the neighborhood.”

            Hmm. Now that I think about it, my son is really tall for his age … but he still needs a booster seat. I can’t figure out how that would work with the taxi OR the friend’s mom. (But maybe the rules are more lax there? I have an older son, so I know they’ve been that way for at least 10 years.)

          • Amanda H. March 4, 2016, 9:57 pm

            @Jays, booster seat rules do tend to be state-specific. We lived in one state where we could let our 6-year-old ride in the front seat as long as she was in her booster and the passenger air bag could be disabled, but the state we live now in says children must be at least 8 years old and meet a height minimum before they can ride in the front seat.

      • Michelleprieur March 3, 2016, 7:24 pm

        The OP did not call around asking for a ride. The other mother offered it.

      • Lara March 7, 2016, 1:30 pm

        The OP seemed to be asking what else she might have done in the situation. I have no idea if she had friends in her neighborhood whom she would have felt comfortable calling, but if she had, that is something she might have done. Swinging by to take a child on a five minute drive does not seem like a very onerous favor to me, and is the kind of thing lots of people would be glad to do, because no one wants a little girl to be disappointed.

        And I do think, personally, that arriving half way through the party is not that big of a deal. I’ve had kids come an hour or more late to parties I’ve thrown, just because their parents couldn’t get them there sooner. They seemed to jump right into the fun without a thought.

  • Yasuragi March 2, 2016, 10:16 am

    One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone completely fumbles something they insisted on doing for you, even when you fully intended to do it yourself. Social pressure prevents you from showing anger (it was a *favor* after all!) and invariably the butterfingered party will try to turn it back around on you (goodness, if it was so important why didn’t you do it yourself?) GRR!

  • Girlie March 2, 2016, 10:46 am

    Shame on that mother! She INSISTED on picking the little girl up and then just bailed. How beyond rude. She should have called and apologized profusely as soon as possible. I probably would have just called the cab and waited for it anyways— even if the daughter got there late. Also, wondering why the mom didn’t just ask the friend to drop daughter off? It was only 5 minutes away.. Either way.. the birthday girl’s mom should be completely embarrassed. How crazy could a 7yr old’s party have been so that she “forgets” to pick her up?

    • Amanda H. March 2, 2016, 4:07 pm

      The friend probably wasn’t available until later that day, since she didn’t drop by until “evening,” and most kids’ parties are not in the evening.

  • Wendy B March 2, 2016, 11:04 am

    I had a friend pull something like this on me. A big concert was coming to our fair and she promised she would get us tickets and see me a couple hours before (my family had a stand at the fair, so I was already on the grounds). The time to meet came and went, no friend. This was in the days before cell phones. The concert started, no friend. I started to cry…I could hear the music, and with every much loved song I became more morose. That was the year I started to learn not to trust her so much…because she regularly backed out on promises. We hung out through high school, but I always remained wary.

    Unfortunately for your daughter, the friend’s mom was teaching friend to be the same way. I think you handled things well under the circumstances.

    • A Person March 2, 2016, 10:53 pm

      That is something I will end a friendship for. Nobody is allowed to dangle something I love in front of me and then stand me up like that.

  • Cat March 2, 2016, 11:15 am

    The only suggestion I would have is that, once the Mom was fifteen minutes late, I would have called the taxi then. Daughter might have arrived an hour late, but she would have been able to attend the party. If someone is an hour late, something is wrong.

  • Livvy17 March 2, 2016, 11:15 am

    This is heartbreaking, but what can you do, other than leave a miffed voicemail? Personally, I probably would have left a host of voicemail, first confused, then worried, then miffed, and perhaps finally (after allowing an interval for the party to be over, and for host to realize her error and respond with profuse apologies ) a very frigidly cold mention that darling E would bring the present on Monday.

  • Dyan March 2, 2016, 11:20 am

    SHAME on the mother…I think as soon as she realized that she forgot your daughter she should have called and apologized to you and YOUR daughter…
    I don’t care if she was busy or not, she should have never said she would do it.

  • lakey March 2, 2016, 11:30 am

    I can see how the hostess got wrapped up in preparing for the party and forgot. This is why I make lists. However, once she realized she had forgotten, she should have apologized profusely.
    Also, good for you for your daughter giving the birthday girl her gift in spite of your daughter’s being disappointed.

  • Devin March 2, 2016, 11:44 am

    I don’t think you need any help for the future. This seems like a one time thing, unless you often are unable to drive for health reasons. Next time just stick to your plan, the one you have control over. Hopefully the mother contacted you personally to apologize at some point.

    I’m with Just4Kicks, if you were able to call your friend to come over, why weren’t you able to have a neighbor or friend give your daughter a ride if it was just 5 minutes away? At that point, the taxi could have still brought her home, assuming the party was to last more than 45 minutes.

    • Jessica March 17, 2016, 1:27 pm

      The OP already explained that the friend was not available at the time of the party and she was new to the area and knew no one else.

  • Cora March 2, 2016, 12:19 pm

    If the situation crops up again with the 2-year-old, don’t cancel the taxi. That way you have a backup plan. If the other mum actually does remember to pick up the kid, all you have to do is politely tell the taxi driver that you’re sorry, it turns out the service wasn’t needed. Even if there’s a fee for late cancellation, I’d rather pay that fee to make sure my kid gets to the party than be left without options.

  • Dee March 2, 2016, 12:29 pm

    I don’t understand letting the other mom off the hook for her treatment of Miss E, whether that treatment was deliberate or not. I would have continued calling the party mom until I reached her, even if it gook all weekend, and then enquired as to what happened at her home that the party was cancelled and I hope it isn’t a terrible emergency and is everyone okay? and so on. Because the only excuse would be an emergency, and even then I can’t imagine how the party host wouldn’t think to give the guests a heads-up. The party mom is thoughtless and needs to know how hurt Miss E was. Shameful.

  • PhDeath March 2, 2016, 1:06 pm

    I find it odd that the hostess wasn’t answering her phone around party time (although I understand she would have had hosting duties). Isn’t it rather sort of expected that there may be last-minute calls for directions, etc.?

    • Ernie March 2, 2016, 5:31 pm

      I was thinking this too. To you and I, yes, we would know to expect information seeking calls near the start of a party. But, I think that the type of disorganized person who would forget to pick up a kid that she said she was going to is the type of person who wouldn’t realize the importance of answering her phone right around the start time of the party.

  • JD March 2, 2016, 1:31 pm

    I’m confused as to why the party hostess insisted on picking up a child anyway. Surely she knew she would be slammed with things to do. And surely at some point she noticed she had a missing guest that should have made her smack her forehead and say, oops I need to call OP? The follow-up next week was handled poorly by the hostess, I agree. I don’t know what OP could have done at the point at which her daughter was forgotten, except call the taxi earlier than she did, or call a friend, if one was available, to deliver her daughter to the party. Or, as OP has already learned, stick to the plans she had made.
    I’ve had people try to do something for me that I’d planned to take care of by myself, and insist so much they make it sound like I’m rude to refuse. But, like OP, having been burned before, I’ve learned to do it myself in that kind of situation. It always seems like the ones who insist the most that I should just let them do it for me are the ones most likely to fail on their offer when the time comes.

    • Ernie March 2, 2016, 5:50 pm

      Very true about the ones who insist the most being the leat likely to come through. I think some people derive their pleasure from offering favors, but don’t actually consider the performance of the favor to be important.

    • Anonymouse March 3, 2016, 2:56 pm

      I think the offer was possibly the result of “Supermom Syndrome”– the belief that one is so organized they can take on more than they really can, usually with disastrous results.

  • Becca March 2, 2016, 2:54 pm

    I understand why the mother insisted on picking her up and could have easily forgiven her if she hadn’t dodged calls. You called and it went to voicemail, her daughter knew she forgot, she was horrible for not talking to your daughter and you directly about it. I would be devastated if I left a little one out there waiting like that, not just “oh sorry my mom forgot!” and that’s all that was heard.

    I wouldn’t fault her child, I’m glad your daughter was strong enough to shrug it off with that excuse. I was the kid that never had anyone show up to their birthday parties so gave up on socialization for all of childhood around nine years old.

  • Cat2 March 2, 2016, 5:01 pm

    I would say, in general, just don’t accept things that seem like they have a higher risk of failure when you have a perfect acceptable solution you’re already comfortable with.

    It seems kind of obvious when you say it, but most people don’t think of it this way: It’s not your job to manage the hostess’ feelings. Just to do what you feel comfortable with as long as it is not unreasonable. This includes not giving in to things that are reasonable-if-they-work-out or kinda-reasonable-but-you’re-not-comfortable with it. Just own that it is your preference, and *most* people will be fine with that.

    “I so appreciate the offer, but I would feel awful about having you do that when I know you have so much other stuff going on. I’d rather have her just take the cab, but again, thanks for the offer.”

  • Michelleprieur March 2, 2016, 6:40 pm

    The nightmare of the birthday party. I’ve given up on people keeping their promises to keep plans altogether. Last year, I had two parents refuse to give me an answer whether they were coming or not, one of them later said yes and never showed. The other said yes then showed up 45 minutes late then got mad when the food and tokens were gone. Both of these people were family members. I had to pay per child for the party. Never again.

    I’m rather surprised at the posters here asking the OP why couldn’t the child walk, why didn’t she call someone else, why didn’t she call the cab service sooner, etc. The fault is entirely on the other mother. I always give people the benefit of the doubt and usually end up being too late to do anything. I wouldn’t have let my child show up halfway through the party. That would have been rude and pointless.

  • monkeys mommy March 2, 2016, 11:26 pm

    Why would you have waited an hour past start time to start calling a taxi? Why didn’t you call the mom, since she insisted on giving a ride and canceling the taxi? That is what I would have done, probably 5-10 minutes past start time. There likely was another parent at the party who could have come over and quickly picked her up.

    • monkeys mommy March 2, 2016, 11:35 pm

      Nevermind, I see that you did do that! Well, that mom is just rude, then.

  • Rebecca March 3, 2016, 1:03 am

    I am rapidly losing patience with the “oh, I forgot” excuse. We are all busy, and none of us can remember everything, so have a SYSTEM in place to remember things that are important. My system is very low-tech. I write it down. It gets written in my calendar, or on a list of things I need to do on a specific day (like make birthday cake, pick up child for party). Then I look at that list. I do not start any day without looking at my calendar, or list, or whatever system I have devised, because if I don’t look, I might forget something. Some people put this stuff in their phones. I don’t – I am still a paper and pen gal – but the point is when you agree to do something you’d better do whatever works for you to ensure you remember.

    And I cannot believe this other mother didn’t even bother to call and apologize. True, everyone slips up from time to time, but to just not call and let the info filter out through her child that she “simply forgot” shows a lack of even caring about what she did.

    • Vandalia March 3, 2016, 9:11 am

      This! I don’t care how you (general you) do it, but find a way to remind yourself of your obligations. I’ll forgive occasional forgetfulness; everyone sometimes slips up and forgets. But I begin to distance myself from those who habitually fail to follow through on what they said they’d do. I don’t entirely cut them off though, and I’m glad for that because one such friend has now finally begun to change her ways. Used to be, when we’d make plans, I’d write it down and block off time and turn down any later invitations. She never would, the day would roll around and–shocker!–something else had come up and she’d have to cancel last minute. After a long drought (because I stopped trying), we made plans to get together and she pulls out a planner and says, “You have to plan these kind of things or else it never happens because something else always comes up.” I just smiled, held my tongue, and nodded along to the truth of that.

  • Marozia March 3, 2016, 3:24 am

    If that were me, I would have called the mother of birthday girl at least a day or two before the party and reminded her about the ride she offered my daughter. That way, if she bails, at least I could’ve booked another taxi for my child.

  • Just4Kicks March 3, 2016, 6:48 am

    Unless the b’day girls mom is a masochist and invited a ton of kids to the party, I’m having trouble understanding why at SOME point, no one noticed OP’ s daughter didn’t show up to the party.
    As in “where’s Sally?”…..Oh my God…..I was supposed to pick her up!

  • Shalamar March 3, 2016, 9:34 am

    I’ve told this story before … when I was 18, I tried to arrange a party for two friends who were having their birthdays in the same week. I was going to have it at my parents’ house (with their permission) and order pizza and cake. Another friend, “Mary”, insisted that we have it at her parents’ house. She said “My mom is a great cook. She’ll make us a feast. You won’t have to do a thing!” I was very uneasy about putting all that work on her mom, but Mary kept waving away my concerns. I finally said “Fine, but I’ll still bring chips and cake.” Mary rolled her eyes and said “If you insist, but no-one will have room for them. I told you – Mom is an AMAZING cook, and there’ll be so much food, you’ll just end up taking the chips and cake home with you.”

    On the day of the party, I was the first to arrive at Mary’s house. As I walked in, I immediately knew something was amiss. There was no sign (or smell) of food, and apart from Mary and her younger brother, the house was empty. The two birthday girls showed up shortly after that. To this day I have no idea what happened, but all I can say is – if I hadn’t brought the chips and cake, there would’ve been nothing for us to eat. (And the kicker is that Mary’s younger brother, blithely ignoring his sister’s strong hints that he find something else to do, ate the lion’s share.)

    • Cat March 4, 2016, 8:00 am

      I am curious. Did you ever ask Mary what happened to the glorious feast she had promised, but did not deliver?

      • Shalamar March 4, 2016, 10:11 am

        I didn’t have much of a backbone in those days, so nope. One thing I remember is that Mary answered the door wearing a sweatshirt with a huge stain across the front, and despite chirping “I should really get changed!”, she never did. I couldn’t help but wonder if she’d completely forgotten about the party.

    • Jewel March 4, 2016, 8:13 am

      That was certainly infuriating! Having had teens, I can tell you what happened: Mary committed her Mom to a lot of work without asking her. When Mom was finally clued in to the situation, she told Mary, “Absolutely not. It’s your friend, you spend YOUR money on groceries and YOU cook.” Then, to ensure she wouldn’t be pushed in to it, Mom made plans to be out of the house the day of the party. Mary had no clue how to cook, probably didn’t have enough money for groceries, so did nothing. And, she didn’t tell you she had messed up with her Mom out of embarrassment. She just decided to “wing it” with the chips and cake you brought. Hopefully, Mary’s grown up a lot since then.

      • Shalamar March 4, 2016, 10:12 am

        Yeah, that’s what I think, too. 🙂

  • Vermin8 March 3, 2016, 9:44 am

    I can see that maybe she couldn’t answer the phone due to being busy but completely forgetting and not conveying an apology directly? It makes me wonder.

    I have a theory and here is an anecdote to illustrate it: when my aunt (call her Aunt Ann) was a young bride (decades ago) she hosted my uncle’s elderly aunt at Aunt Ann’s & uncle’s house. Aunt Ann asked elderly aunt would she like something to eat? Elderly aunt said “oh just some crackers” so Aunt Ann fed her crackers.
    Later someone explained to Aunt Ann that she messed up – that “just some crackers” is code for a proper lunch (ie sandwich, maybe soup). And she was supposed to know to feed elderly aunt this lunch over her protests (I just want crackers; please don’t go to all this trouble!).
    My point is that some people speak in code and those people who speak in code are not only rarely direct but expect others to speak in code and don’t take things literally.
    So I’m wondering if the friend’s mom interpreted LW’s statement about the taxi as code for “I need a ride.” And then when friend’s mom got overwhelmed and perhaps resentful that she was “asked” to do this, she decided to blow it off. And since people who use code are almost never direct, not picking up E and ignoring phone calls was the proper way to handle it in her mind.
    It sounds ridiculous but I’ve met people like this. You ignore hints and they’re ticked off. They react to what they perceive and hints AND are unable to process direct statements.
    I am not a code talker (and not a mind reader) and used to get frustrated with these people. Now I take what I hear and if that’s not correct I don’t worry about it.

    • Angela March 3, 2016, 10:37 am

      I know people like that! In my hometown there was a story about a female military veteran who was still relatively young who visited a retailer that featured a reserved parking spot for military veterans. She qualified, she parked, and busybodies reported her. Furious online debate ensued, most of it pointing out the sexism of assuming that a woman couldn’t have been a veteran. One person though insisted that the spaces were for DISABLED veterans and they just didn’t say “disabled” because that would wound the pride of disabled veterans, but everyone should have known that these spots were secretly for disabled veterans. No amount of pointing out that this was unrealistic could dissuade him.

      • Vermin8 March 4, 2016, 7:07 am

        And anyone who has worked for the federal government will tell you that if there is no “disabled” it’s not implied! That same issue comes up with my husband. He did a few years in the military, stateside only, no conflict. If I wish him happy Veteran’s Day he always says it’s not for him. But the term “veteran” refers to anyone who served.
        I think some people just like to throw in interpretation to make it mean what they want it to mean, or worse, to twist the rules to be favorable to some people, unfavorable to others.

    • Becca March 3, 2016, 11:18 am

      I know the song and dance routine you’re talking about, I didn’t even think of that.

      I grew up with parents of my school friends who actively looked down on me given my location, so sadly I’m more than aware of adults taking it out on the kids in one way or another. So that does leave me to wonder if that isn’t the case here.

      • Vermin8 March 4, 2016, 7:09 am

        It very well could be. And it’s very unfortunate that the daughter got caught in the middle of this if my speculation is true. And I’ll admit I have a bias – I am not a “code talker” and get tired of it. I hate that “should have been obvious when I didn’t say blah blah blah…”

    • Devin March 3, 2016, 11:30 am

      I can not stand when people hint around like that instead of stating what it is they want or need, especially when it’s adults with a fully formed vocabulary. In this case, it sounds like OP shared with the mother the situation as to why her daughter would be unaccompanied (the recent surgery and this was a one time situation), which is a considerate thing to do since parents usually escort their small children to parties.

      Come to think of it, maybe the mom ‘forgot’ to pick up the daughter because she didn’t want to be responsible for an unattended child at a party she was hosting. It sounds like the OP didn’t ask if it was okay for her to send her child solo, but just assumed that was an okay arrangement.

      • Michelleprieur March 3, 2016, 7:28 pm

        If the mother didn’t want the OPs child there without her parent she should have said so. I disagree with your implication that the OPs daughter shouldn’t have been going to the party alone. 7 years old is not a baby and the OP had just had surgery, which I’m sure the party mother knew.

      • BagLady March 3, 2016, 8:04 pm

        For 7-year-olds? I don’t have children, but my experience with birthday parties in this age group (as a former 7-year-old and friend of people with kids) is that parents generally don’t stay for the party. Exceptions: Birthday child’s folks have asked a couple of the little guests’ parents to come and help with kid wrangling, or it’s the sort of party where entire families, not just birthday kid’s friends, are invited).

        • NostalgicGal March 4, 2016, 10:35 am

          I had my only non family kid birthday party for my 7th, and the era was mostly stay at home moms yet; and I got to invite my six guests. One brought a visiting cousin so I had seven guests. The moms brought over their entire clutch, not just the invited kids! We had an additional ELEVEN under that age, some brought three extras. Down to still in diapers. Not every mother came with the kids, but suddenly my mother was having to play hostess to 3 other moms, and all the extras (a few just sent all their kids) as a sort of daycare. That was my last birthday party until I grew up and left that didn’t involve family only. I remember it took four days to clean up after that one too… (other kid parties I attended around that time, nobody else had extra kids unless it was siblings of the birthday kid, so I’m not sure what happened…)

          • David March 4, 2016, 5:24 pm

            NostalgicGal, this just floors me.

            Maybe it’s because my 7th birthday party was 0ver 55 years ago but there were no other parents than my mother there and only the children that I had invited came to the party.

            I just can’t fathom why anyone would think that people not on the invitation were invited. It’s a party for the birthday child to celebrate with their friends, not an entire family social event.

          • Yasuragi March 4, 2016, 7:47 pm

            Ugh, that was my mom. She’d always drop all of us off at birthday parties only one of us had been invited too. Sleepovers even! In the days before cell phones the parents had little recourse except to put us up for the night. Small town culture prevented them from calling the police.

            Even as a little kid I felt so weird about those situations. As an adult I cringe in shame.

          • NostalgicGal March 7, 2016, 3:03 am

            Well it did insure that I didn’t get another one until I left home… other than an all family one. It was close to fifty years ago… Only thing was that I took my guests upstairs to play, and the others stayed downstairs in the living room or the front bedroom (some of the really smalls got put down for nap after cake, ice cream, and presents-a few of them didn’t understand that the presents were mine and not for them-things like that)

      • Anonymous March 3, 2016, 8:57 pm

        Actually, I think it’s pretty safe to assume that a birthday party for seven-year-olds, hosted at someone’s house, would be a drop-off party. For kids below, say, kindergarten age, and/or if the party is at a venue, then it might not be, but a drop-off party in a private home for seven-year-olds is reasonable–when I was a kid, birthday parties were a drop-off affair once you hit school age. So, in the OP’s mind, she probably didn’t see much difference between showing up and dropping off her daughter in person, and calling ahead and saying, “Daughter will be taking a taxi to and from the party, because I’m recovering from surgery.” Anyway, for every parent who thinks it’s rude for parents to “use birthday parties as free babysitting” by dropping off their kids, there’s another parent who thinks it’s rude for parents to stay, especially if they bring their other children. But, the thing is, it’s incumbent on the host to communicate those expectations to the parents upfront–they don’t get to hint around and then make a CHILD guest suffer because her mother isn’t a mind reader.

        • Amanda H. March 4, 2016, 10:06 pm

          Hear hear.

          When my kids get invited to parties, only the invitees get to go. I nip any complaints in the bud by pointing out that they each have their own friends who’ll have parties that my kids’ siblings won’t get to attend, and so it all balances out. The only recent party where more than just the invitee stayed, it was at a local bouncy castle place and the host mom actually provided the information about how much it cost per kid if we wanted to stay with any others we had. I willingly paid the admission for my other two children to stay so I wouldn’t have to figure out what to do for an hour and a half while the party happened.

      • Vermin8 March 4, 2016, 7:12 am

        It very well could be. Party Mom (even if my speculation is not correct) doesn’t seem to be big on communication. I didn’t think that maybe Party Mom wanted the Moms to be their with their kids. I think it’s pretty common to just drop the kids off.

    • Anonymous March 3, 2016, 6:17 pm

      I don’t think the “just some crackers” situation is entirely parallel to the OP’s situation, because the elderly aunt bore all the repercussions for getting “code speak” wrong, when she asked Aunt Ann for “just some crackers” instead of a proper lunch. Elderly Aunt messed up by speaking code to a straightforward person, and she got “just some crackers” as requested. In the OP’s situation, Party Mom insisted on picking up the OP’s daughter for the birthday party, when she had no intention of actually doing so, in order to punish the OP for “asking” for a favour that she never actually asked for. But, the real loser in all of this wasn’t the OP, but her daughter, who was a seven-year-old child who hadn’t even been a part of the conversation that led to her missing the birthday party. OP had scheduled a taxi for her daughter. Party Mom took “I scheduled a taxi” as code for “I need a ride,” offered a ride, and didn’t follow through. Code talker or not, it’s not okay to punish an unrelated third party (especially a child) for one’s own lack of communication skills.

      • Vermin8 March 4, 2016, 7:17 am

        Not entirely parallel, no. But elderly aunt didn’t know she was speaking to a straightforward person and probably didn’t care – in her group, the code speak was accepted and possibly normal. This is part of my point – code speakers don’t consider it their responsibility to adjust their method of communication when talking to a non code speaker. Since they consider their method “right” the other person should adjust.

  • MelEtiquette March 3, 2016, 10:20 am

    The mom hosting the party should have contacted you directly to apologize when she realized that she never picked up E for the party. Even if she didn’t realize it until her child came home from school with a present from E. An apology/explanation from the birthday girl is not sufficient in this case. To extend the apology one step further, the host mom could have proposed a different activity between E and her daughter (e.g., invite her over for the afternoon one Saturday), but I don’t think that would have been strictly necessary. The OP should not feel obligated to have done anything more in this situation.

    • Politrix March 4, 2016, 9:43 pm

      Which makes me also wonder, did the birthday girl/mom at least have the courtesy to follow up with a thank-you note for the gift?

  • Emmy March 4, 2016, 2:59 pm

    The mom may not have been intentionally rude, but she was extremely thoughtless to insist on picking up the daughter than not following through. You don’t make an offer like that unless you plan to follow through – even if it turns out to be inconvenient. I just don’t know how she could insist on making such an offer, know she was Miss E’s only way to get to the party, then turn around and forget all about it. To not apologize or make amends seem to show the mother doesn’t have a lot of class.

    I don’t blame the mom for not sending her daughter to the party late. If the taxi was a few minutes later than expected, the daughter could have been at the party less than an hour and coming in that late may mean she missed much of the festivities.

  • kingsrings March 4, 2016, 7:02 pm

    I can’t believe that the mom didn’t ever apologize for forgetting! Most people would feel so mortified and embarrassed that they forgot and let a sweet little girl down like that.

  • Cat March 5, 2016, 8:43 am

    One thing that strikes me is that the daughter was never asked anything about her wishes. “Miss E, Mrs. X says she will pick you up while she is running errands. Would you prefer to ride with her or to take the taxi?” The answer could then have been, “Sorry, Mrs. X, it is very kind of you to offer her a ride, but she is really looking forward to riding in a taxi.”
    “Miss E, it looks like Mrs. X forgot to pick you up. Would you rather stay home or go to the party late?”
    One of my pet peeves from my childhood is that I was never asked what I wanted. I thought I should be allowed to have some say in how I wore my hair, what clothes I would wear, and what electives I would take in high school. It is hard to achieve any kind of autonomy as an adult if one is never allowed to make decisions during childhood.

    • Anonymous March 5, 2016, 3:50 pm

      Good point. My parents started with easy, binary choices when my brother and I were babies or toddlers (I forget which), like “Red shirt or blue shirt?”; or “Peanut butter sandwich with or without jam?” Later, we got to choose our own extra-curricular activities (within reason), and elective courses in high school, and what musical instruments we wanted to play (also within reason), and when I went vegetarian at seventeen, my parents were on board. So, when it came time for the really big decisions, like “Big, prestigious university, or small, intimate university?”; we were better equipped to pick what worked for us.

  • Ki March 23, 2016, 10:38 pm

    Late comment but here goes: I was not a popular kid, and “cancelled” parties, fake invitations etc happened to me a couple of times. The rule was that if I didn’t get to go to the party for any reason other than my misbehaviour or act of God, the present was mine. That helped soothe sore feelings! Birthday kid got something else if the party honestly didn’t go ahead, or just the card if it did. I’m going to keep this one up if I ever have any kids of my own 🙂