Monday, April 07, 2008

Uninvited

Well, I wasn't really invited in the first place. Just paying homage to Alanis Morissette.

Anyway, these few weeks, my parents have been invited to various Smachot in the neighborhood on Shabbat for meals. That meant three weeks in a row of leaving their kids on their own for either Friday night dinner or Shabbat lunch.

I don't like that.

I especially didn't enjoy hosting my little teenage brother and his two friends on my own for lunch. Nice kids, but baseball really isn't my thing.

When my parents made my brother's Bar Miztvah a few years ago, they thought about how much they hate leaving their kids, and did what any considerate person would do. They invited families rather than couples. So rather than 40 "friends," my parents hosted my relatives and their closest friends (about 5 non-family families) for lunch. That was it.

The others were invited to a kiddush and the evening, but they did not encourage leaving kids on their own for Shabbos meals.

One might argue that you encourage politics this way because people start comparing, "wait, you were invited and I wasn't?" but that happens all the time anyway.

Some might argue that the host has the choice whether to invite the guest, and the guest has the option to decline. My parents justified each week, saying that there wasn't one they could have missed.

Since I'm the middle one left at home, and the youngest is 16, the situation differs from my friends who are generally oldest children (hmm, what does that say about my personality?). When the youngest is 5 or 10, it's a lot harder to leave them.

In most families, both parents work, the children have different schedules, and a family dinner with everyone at the table only occurs on Shabbos. Why take that away from people?

(Don't get me started on separate seating on Shabbos)

I say that the ba'alei simcha should either invite whole families or nobody at all.

8 Comments:

At 4/07/2008 6:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree. If your parents did not spend enough quality time with their kids that week, they have every right to explain to their friends that they respectfully decline the invite. There's no such thing as "they couldn't miss it."

 
At 4/07/2008 6:38 PM, Blogger SuperRaizy said...

I agree with you. I have turned down plenty of invitations because I was invited and my kids weren't (or even worse, one child was invited along with me but the other two weren't.) People don't understand and sometimes get insulted, but my first obligation is to be there for my children.

 
At 4/07/2008 7:58 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

anon...I told my parents repeatedly that they should decline. Perhaps I wasn't clear. Parents SHOULD decline these ridiculous invites, such as Superraizy does. Maybe then people will stop doing it!

 
At 4/08/2008 9:59 AM, Blogger The Babysitter said...

For those that don't decline the invites I end up having to babysit for them on shabbos. Although its usually because they have young ones that can't walk to the place where the kiddush is.
But yea, for a Bar Mitzvah shabbos, by my brothers we had our relatives stay over by people's houses. Then who ever lived nearby walked over.
But that's true how shabbos is usually the only time a family gets to sit and talk with each other, during the week everyone's on the go, doing their own thing.

 
At 4/08/2008 1:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some might argue that the host has the choice whether to invite the guest, and the guest has the option to decline. My parents justified each week, saying that there wasn't one they could have missed.

-----------------------------------

Sounds like you're defending your parents. If you think they're wrong for going to all three, SAY SO, and not just in the comments.

Saying that they're wrong undermines your whole piece. People can invite just the parents, and the parents have a right to decline. The fact that your parents didn't is their problem, not the hosts.

 
At 4/09/2008 10:48 AM, Anonymous Ike said...

Good post - my take (and you sort of alluded to it) - depends on the age of the kids involved. If you have a family with a bunch of small children, then either invite them all or forget it. And if you invite just the parents, don't be offended if they have the saichel to say "thanks, but no thanks."

But once the kids are teenagers, I don't see the big deal; I think it's fine if just the parents are invited. I like to use those meals as an opportunity to visit a married friend, married sibling, cousin, etc. Or if I'm tired, a quick meal at home, followed by hitting the sack at 12 noon.

 
At 4/09/2008 7:37 PM, Blogger Kaila said...

michelle, as much as you felt it was wrong, perhaps your parents really appreciated the opportunity to have an outing together on shabbos without their (now teenage) kids. my kids aren't teenagers yet, but hey, an outing without arranging a babysitter would be welcome anytime. just because you're not a toddler doesn't mean your parents don't need to socialize with their own friends without you. the week is so busy with work and household duties and yes, children, even if it's not "quality time."

i remember there was a diaspora yeshiva band concert at town hall a number of years ago, and me and my siblings REALLY wanted to go. well, my parents went without any of us, and we were fuming. there was only one opportunity to go to that concert. well, now i think they did the right thing. they needed a kid-free outing (we were teens and preteens) and they took one. were we upset? you betcha. that doesn't mean it wasn't important for them to go without us, even if we sulked about it for a week afterwards.

 
At 5/12/2008 10:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Change the world Michelle, change it.

 

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