Remind me never to …


If ever I get tempted, please remind me never to hold a children’s party ever again, would you?

It seems that two rather managing young mothers got together and decided to send an email to all the parents of their daughters’ classmates, stating that for their forthcoming birthdays, they wanted a ‘class gift’ for them rather than individual offerings. They informed the recipients exactly what the young ladies wanted – a kindle for one, and a desk for the other – and even suggested an amount that parents should contribute (£10) and a couple of alternative methods of paying.

Stunned, another mother, Myleene Klass1, relieved her feelings on Twitter, adding a picture of the email she had received and her reply to it. Her reply was classic, and very funny. She told the two grasping forward-thinking and hopeful mothers that her own daughter would like a real, live unicorn for her birthday and that she herself wouldn’t be averse to a Ferrari, and/or Leonardo DiCaprio. She suggested that money could be donated via a fictitious website’. Having read this email, I think it was a pretty good one. A nice blend of humour, and ‘take you down a peg or two in the nicest possible way’.

Here’s where it gets really silly. The headteacher of the school chose to reprimand Ms Klass for making it public rather than the two instigators for their outrageous and extremely rude begging email, and she was also harangued at the school gates by the other mothers.

There’s no doubt that to publish the email on Twitter was unacceptable, but at least it has brought to light what is going on in our schools today. It may be that it was a private school for the well-heeled and well-connected, but if so, does that make it any better? And this comes not very long after a young boy’s father was sent an invoice for nearly £16 for failing to send his son to a friend’s party, which happened to be held at a dry ski slope.

I’m afraid that to this grouchy old woman who remembers – and holds to – the values of her childhood, this all seems .. well, a mixture of sad, pathetic and absolutely fucking outrageous. And no, I am not going to beg you to excuse the swearword2.

I would like now to give you the reply that would have been forthcoming from me, if anyone had ‘suggested’ that I pay £10 towards a child’s ‘class gift’ when my boys were young.

Dear Managing and Socially Inept Fellow Parent,

Thank you for your email regarding my contribution to your son/daughter’s ‘class gift’ on the occasion of their forthcoming birthday. What a very clever, and rather inspired, thought! But – forgive me – I fear you cannot have thought this through.

You see, there are thirty children in the class, and if I were to do this for each of them, the amount I would need to find on a yearly basis comes to £300. I also have another son, in whose class there are twenty-eight children, which adds another £280 to the bill. Since I cannot afford an extra £580 per annum from my classroom assistant’s wages until such time as my sons leave this school, I must decline to take part, on the basis of fairness to all the other children. After all, since you have shown such an example of inclusiveness, I can hardly contribute to one and fail to spend on them all, can I?

Yours, Affronted of Orton Malborne

This doesn’t even take into account the fact that some parents have three, four, or even five children, and are thus on even tighter budgets than we were. Can you imagine trying to find an extra £1500 each year as a single mother on child benefit? Or are we now judging people on their ability to pay, and discriminating against those who choose larger families? Personally, I can’t imagine the effect all this will have on the kids themselves. I have visions of the ‘haves’ feeling superior to the ‘have nots’3 and the ‘have nots’ being looked down upon and feeling not only inferior in some way, but shamed.

More to the point, really, is that if we go with this horrible new venture, will it not make the children themselves look down their cute little noses at those with different values4 or lifestyles which make it impossible or undesirable for their families to join in? What about the kids whose ‘class present’ email doesn’t bring enough revenue for their desired unicorn gift?

I sometimes get sick to the back teeth with the current politically correct attempt to include everyone, everywhere, all the time, because let’s face it, life isn’t like that and if we are taught to believe that it is, we are doomed to bitter disappointment, but this is … well, let’s just say it’s a step in the wrong direction.

Or maybe I’m way out of date and this now is the done thing. I sincerely hope not. It’s bad enough that there now appear to be rules for holding children’s parties about who gets to win what and which treats have to be provided for each child and when it’s OK to withhold them.

1 So, OK, Myleene Klass happens to be both famous and well-heeled. It is hardly the point.

2 This does not betray my childhood values at all. My father, God rest his soul, swore like the trooper he once was.

3 As has always happened and will continue to happen despite our best endeavours, especially among children.

4 Jehovah’s Witnesses, for instance, who don’t celebrate personal birthdays.