Hey fellow Mum/Mom, what the …..?
Category: Birthday parties
Répondez s’il vous plaît
RSVP. Répondez s’il vous plaît. Literally translated into English meaning ‘respond please’. It has been a term used for a very long time, probably originating when King Louis XIV, at his palace of Versailles, created a set of rules in the form of a ‘ticket’ or, in French; ‘etiquette’, setting out the guidelines for the correct way to behave when in his Court. These ‘tickets’ were either put up around Versailles or sent out on the back of invitations. Though, this is but one theory of the origin of the term and how we still use it today when talking about modern etiquette, it certainly makes sense given the French led the way for etiquette in the modern world through the 19th Century.
Why such background information on this blog? Well I guess it serves as a reminder that even in this day and age of incredible technology, where snail mail is rarely used anymore, one can still have manners!
A few weeks ago, my daughter was having her 8th birthday party. We sent out invitations (my daughter handed them out at school with her teacher’s help) to 8 girl friends, 18 days in advance. Why 18 days? Well, I guess I thought three weeks was too long and two weeks was too short, so I found a happy medium. The party consisted of two parts; a sleep over with the option of me picking them up from school directly or the parents delivering children to our house (enabling them to meet me, ensure we were hygienic etc), and a party the following morning at something called a kids’ café. The café needed numbers, as does anywhere one books a party, so we gave them 10 (we have three kids of our own including the birthday girl). I made it clear on the invitation that each child was more than welcome to do either one or the other or both, that was entirely up to the parent but I did need an RSVP. I gave them my mobile phone number, my name and said please call or text by the Monday prior.
Now let me give you a little bit of background information about what it’s like to live in an expat community as part of a Military Installation in South Korea: the children are bused to and from school. Most people are only allowed one car, meaning getting about can sometimes pose a problem, this is because of an agreement with the Korean Government, so not something that can be trifled with (Driving in Korea can be scary anyway, so it’s actually a good thing). Given that we have only been here for 5 months, we had only been to one school function for our daughter’s class and it was a play. We brought donuts, watched the kids perform then left the kids to their donut party, not really something we socialized at. Our daughter had been to two birthday parties though, but one of the girls had already PCS’d (military acronym for moving when the military tells you to move) & I did have the other girl’s mother’s number.
Right back to the story……
The invitations were handed out. 1 week passed. Nothing. On day 12, the Friday before the response was due, I asked my daughter to remind her friends to RSVP through their parents. I gave her some cards (yes, I have cards with my telephone number and blog website on them – some even have the names and ages of my kids on the back so I can give them to other mothers with whom I meet and connect, that way they can remember who I was, who my kids are and which of their kids would connect with mine). She gave out a couple of them and reminded them to get their parents to let me know. Day 15: RSVP requested date. Nothing. Day 16, I again asked her to remind her friends to let us know if they could come, the party was on the Friday night/Saturday morning and it was now Tuesday. I then sent a text to the only mother who’s number I had and gently reminded her of the party on Friday night, she almost immediately responded and said yes, her daughter would be there, but she wouldn’t sleep over or come the next morning. Ok, at least one child was coming. I also asked if she had any other parents’ information and she had one of them and said she would find out if this other little girl was coming. On the Thursday night, I heard from this same mother who told me that yes, the other little girl would be coming but also not staying the night, nor would she be at the café the following morning. I appreciated her letting me know, though I did question why the girl in question’s own mother or father couldn’t respond to me directly. Odd. Finally, at 7pm, I got a call from one of the other little girls who said yes, she was coming and she was staying the night! Yay! A little late but my little girl was literally starting to feel heartbroken at the thought that no one wanted to come to her party nor stay the night with her, so this made her very happy. At 9pm, I got a text from one other mother saying that her daughter would be there on Friday night.
Four out of eight. As for the other 4 girls, I’ve still not heard from any of their parents. Just plain slack and inconsiderate as far as I’m concerned.
As it turned out, only one little girl stayed the night and the other little girl, who’s mother sent me the text at 9pm, did come to the party the following morning, though she didn’t stay. We had booked a party for 10 kids and had paid a deposit. We were unsure how it would work when we turned up with only 5 so I asked my neighbours’ little girls to come along, literally at the very last minute (they go to school with my son and are his very dear friends). Luckily they could join us and wow, did we have a great time!
The slumber party turned into “The best party ever,” according to all the little girls who came. We did makeup, nails and toenails. My girlfriend came along to help out and brought costume jewelry too. We let the girls decorate our faces after we done theirs and they loved it! We had an ice cream bar that any fro yo place would have been jealous of and it was just a lot of fun.
But what if I hadn’t reached out to that mother? What if my daughter hadn’t gone to school every day for a week and asked everyone to remind their parents to let us know? Why has society gone in the direction of not using common courtesy, even decency, anymore? I admit we have gotten so busy that I have forgotten to RSVP on time, but I have always sent a response as soon as I’ve remembered. My heart was literally breaking for my little girl when she came home on the Tuesday before the party and we still hadn’t heard from anyone. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to strangle the necks of the parents or just burst into tears at the devastation on my baby’s face. It shouldn’t have come down to that!
We live in an age where our children grow up far too quickly as it is. I know there are far more important things going on in the world than a simple RSVP, but when that lack of response means breaking a child’s heart, it should be important. It should be of the utmost importance. We are letting our own busy lives, our procrastinating tendencies, our own slackness all get in the way of the little things that make life grand when you are a child, things like an 8th birthday party! And I haven’t even discussed the implications when it comes to events like weddings
Répondez s’il vous plaît. RSVP. It’s more than just about you!