Home > motherhood > Am I weird or was that rude?

Am I weird or was that rude?

So, I have a friend. We’ll call her T. She’s not a good friend, just a casual sort of friend. She wants to be a good friend, best friend, bestest buddies ever ever, but I just don’t connect to her on that level. On the surface, we’re a perfect family/friend match — she and I have similar interests, her husband and my husband have similar interest, we both have kids about the same age. It’s just a matter of… I dunno.. chemistry, if that doesn’t sound too sexual.

Anyway, she’s always trying to do things and I’m trying to keep limits.

So a few weeks ago, we got an invite to a BBQ at their house. I accepted, because we hadn’t seen them since Christmas and because I do like her. And him. (Not the kid. Their kid’s a spazz.) It was a BBQ, so I figured burgers, dogs, potato salad, etc. And I was a little worried about The Child running around near a hot grill, but that’s a BBQ, right? Kids running around, playing in the grass while the grown ups sip beer and eat dogs.

But then I read, in the invite, the line, “There will be a mother’s helper to watch the kids.”

Well, I thought. That’s nice!

And it was. The mother’s helper was their barista — a big young man with an accent that placed him from The Islands somewhere — and he was great with The Kid. The adults sat around (inside, it rained) and chatted and I thought how nice this was.

Then, about two-third of the way through the party, I mentioned how well the Mother’s Helper seemed to be getting along with all the kids — there were two others in addition to mine and T’s — and she said, “Yeah, if you don’t mind, I would like a donation. At $15 an hour, that gets really pricey!”

I was floored.

I had no cash on me. I am, in fact, dirt poor this month. I’d brought a nice cole slaw — red cabbage , fresh carrots, home-made mayo, the whole nine yards — because my Mama would reach up from Conn. and beat my head if I showed up at a party empty handed. But, as a guest, that’s all I expected to be asked for — the odd side dish or bottle of wine. (They are oenophiles and I don’t drink, so I didn’t even try to bring a decent bottle. Home made mayo was enough.)

I stammered something about no cash and must have looked embarrassed because the subject got changed quickly, but I don’t know what to do. Mail her a check and decline future events? Forget it unless she brings it up again? I mean,  I would have been just as happy to have the kids at her party run around and play together — I didn’t want the mother’s helper. it was just a nice bonus.

The thing is, I had a party in December to which she was invited. There were kids — about five of them, I think — and I didn’t hire a mother’s helper. Why? Well, because kids are part of the fun, I think. And because I couldn’t afford it, frankly. Hell, she didn’t even bring a side dish to that party!

And finally, $15 an hour!? That’s what I pay for a full-fledged sitter in the city! Helper’s get less than sitters, I think, don’t they? And in the ‘burbs, isn’t it supposed to be cheaper?

I’m in a manners quandary. It makes me uncomfortable.

Categories: motherhood
  1. August 5, 2008 at 1:32 am

    IMO, it was rude of her to assume everyone would want to pay. She should have called around, done an informal poll about it and that would have at least been a warning to the guests attending.

    I’d let it slide and possibly avoid going to major events like that at her house again. Or if you do end up going, inquire ahead of time, bringing up this event and her perspective on it. Then put in your two cents. But there’s no point in bringing it up now unless she says something. If she does, just go with what you feel. At least it will be genuine.

  2. August 5, 2008 at 3:52 am

    That might be the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Why would you not just tell people “no kids” at our party and let them hire their own sitters?

  3. August 7, 2008 at 1:37 am

    Yeah, that was totally HER choice as the hostess to provide that “service” for her guests. and without asking/making payment a qualifier for your attendance first, I think it was incredibly rude of her to demand money on the spot.
    Next time, I’d casually ask if there would be childcare again that you’d be expected to pitch in for…and then make the answer part of your decision to accept or decline the invitation.
    But all in all, I think Miss Manners would be appalled at the whole thing.

  4. September 1, 2008 at 7:12 am

    Her decision. It’s rude to ask you to pay a) in front of other people, b) after you’ve already come. That’s just weird.

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