It’s Not All Mary Poppins

Everything I needed to know I learned in…

Two mothers stand in my front hall.

“So glad you can come!”
“Oh, yeah! Wouldn’t miss it!”

They chat for a minute or two longer. Discussing the party they’re both attending. To which I am not invited.

This has happened from time to time down through the years, and every time, it just floors me.

It’s just so damned rude. It’s the kind of rude you should have learned to avoid in Kindergarten. Clearly these two missed that lesson.

It’s two kinds of rude, in fact. First, it’s bad manners to talk about a party in the presence of someone not invited. But there are parties and parties. There’s the party thrown by a co-worker, say, a party that I would not have the remotest expectation of being invited to. Then they’re being rude by talking about something that excludes the third person. Same as it would be rude for them to stand in my front hall and talk about their workplace politics, discussing people and events I have no connection to, in a way that precludes my participation. (Which, come to that, they have also done!) It’s rude primarily because this kind of conversation excludes others, treats them as if they were wallpaper.

It’s additionally rude in this particular situation because it’s the end of my work day. If you want to have a private social conversation, ladies, take it outside and off my clock!

It’s rude to talk about something that excludes someone in the room. But it gets worse. This party is a Halloween party, being thrown by the first parent. So, not only are they talking about a party to which I was not invited, in my presence, but they are talking about a party to which I might reasonably expect to have been invited!

That, my friends, is mind-boggling.

Now, I’m not particularly insulted. I’m not a hugely social person, and would not want to be invited to every party thrown by every daycare parent. Truth be known, over the years I’ve thrown parties myself to which some, but not all, daycare parents were invited. I’m not so hypocritical that I can deny them the right to determine their guest list, when I’ve done exactly the same thing.

But here’s the difference: I didn’t talk about it in front of the uninvited. In fact, I gave the invited parents the heads-up that not all the daycare parents had been invited, to avoid awkward moments.

Like the moment I’m currently experiencing.

Bizarre.

I opted to ignore them. Ignored them and took their children out to the front porch. Then came inside after a minute, pretty much forcing them to go outside before their tots made a break for the street.

In my darker imaginings, I didn’t respond quietly. Nope! In my fantasy, I smiled perkily.

“Oh! You’re having a party? When is it?” And in my fantasy, they’re stunned into mortified silence, suddenly aware of how selfish their behaviour has been.

Of course, this assumes that people so oblivious could be embarrassed by anything short of a two-by-four upside the head. Unlikely, I know.

Telling them they’re being rude is itself rude, so I’m not going to do that. I certainly don’t want to provoke the guilt-invitation, which is a mortification all round, and which I’d not accept anyway. Besides, that’s not the point. I’m not annoyed I wasn’t invited, I’m annoyed they’re taking my time and treating me like a non-entity by discussing it as if I weren’t there.

(And let it be noted, they’re great clients. They really appreciate what I do. They speak very highly of me to their friends. It’s just clear that in their minds I’m “My Daycare Lady”, not, you know, a regular human being.)

Is there a polite response to such rude behaviour?

What would Miss Manners say?

What do you say?

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October 30, 2012 - Posted by | parents, Peeve me, socializing, the dark side |

5 Comments »

  1. I’ve actually been in this situation – although not as Daycare Lady – and I’ve either said nothing, or else said “oh, a party, that’s nice!” and then changed the subject rapidly. If the guilt invitation is forthcoming, I make up a previous engagement and laugh the whole thing off – hoping they’ll have better manners next time.

    Now that I’ve discovered how much fun it is speaking my mind (ha! this is on my blog today and no, I’m not trolling for clicks, it just is, which is funny) I may start telling people just how bloody rude I think they are. Especially in my doorway at one minute until closing. (Personal pet peeve. I don’t want to chat. I want you to take your kid and GO HOME.)

    Comment by Hannah | November 1, 2012 | Reply

  2. That is rude. My own kids are still young, so after school they do “mix” with the dc a bit (I also take some other school aged dc kids) when it’s time for their parties I make it clear they are not to talk about it in front of the dc kids, some of whom may not get an invite. They are not to talk about it before or after the event, period. Because it’s RUDE. If a 5 and 7 year old can get it, then grown women should…

    Comment by Kate | November 1, 2012 | Reply

  3. Like you said, ironically, it’s rude to point out to people that they’re being rude. I think the politest way to deal with that situation is to ignore it, as you did. I love that you corralled the kids outside to hurry the Moms up, though. The best defense is a good offense. 😛

    Comment by Sheri | November 1, 2012 | Reply

  4. I would definitely call them out…but only in my head. Really I would say:
    “What fun! It sounds like you two have lovely plans! Did you need to chat with me about anything kid-related? No? (hold open front door) Well, have a delightful evening. See you in the morning!”

    Comment by Samantha | November 2, 2012 | Reply

  5. I have nannied for the same family for 3.5 years now. :Last year they decided to have a huge new year’s eve (day) party. Invited the entire neighborhood and I had to work extra hours the day before because they were out and bought all new china for the occasion. I was expected to work for a few hours in the morning while they set up the house. That morning I received a text message asking me if I wanted to stay for the party afterwards (as a guest, not an employee). Total pity invite. They never thought of me at all, besides expecting me to work extra hours so they could prep. (i of course, didn’t stay). Total opposite…i just received an invite to a christmas party for a newer babysitting family. Only been there a handful of times but they were polite enough to extend the invitation.

    Comment by Brooke | November 4, 2012 | Reply


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