While we're on the subject of birthday parties (it's birthday party season in my household), let's talk about the etiquette of RSVPs.
My six year old is having a birthday party this weekend. Written invitations were mailed four weeks ago with a clearly marked RSVP date (one week prior to the party) and two options for RSVP (mobile phone or email).
Three days out from the party and four children were unaccounted for. So, I followed up with their parents. One is going away that weekend, another is coming to the party, the third has been off school ill and will let me know closer to the date (fair enough - although the party is tomorrow and I haven't heard so far), and the fourth I still haven't heard back from.
Then this morning a child who was one of the first to RSVP in the affirmative said to me at school drop off that she was sorry she can't come to the party as she is going to a friend's school fair. As her mother had RSVP'd so quickly and so definitely, this confused me and when I happened to see the mother in the school carpark on my way out, I asked her about her child telling me she's not coming (although I didn't mention the school fair bit).
"Ah, yes," she said. "She's been sick, so I'm just waiting to see if she's well enough to come to the party. I'll SMS you first thing tomorrow morning. She really wants to come if she can."
Call me old-fashioned, but I treat RSVP-ing seriously. When I say yes or no to something I do so before the date on the invitation and in the manner requested on the invitation. Both my girls have been taught that once something has been accepted you don't then change your mind if a better offer comes up. My oldest in particular has had a couple of occasions this year where she's missed good friend's parties or sleepovers because she was already committed elsewhere.
Before our time, a written invitation would have necessitated a written RSVP. Heck, even in my time, I can recall writing endless replies to friends' parents for invitations to 18th and 21st birthday parties.
Another school mum who has much older step-children tells me that organising 18th and 21st birthday parties nowadays is a nightmare, as no-one RSVPs in advance. Parents are left wondering how many exactly they are catering for, while the younger generation watch their mobile phones in case a better offer appears in their SMS in-box.
But then, perhaps they were the ones whose parents didn't RSVP to six year old birthday parties either.
Tell me, am I just grumpy and out of touch with the etiquette of today?