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This Email Thread Is Why Everyone Hates Parents

Here’s how not to plan a get-together with children

Parents: When they’re not oversharing about their children’s poop, they’re killing us softly by attempting to organize a get-together on a never-ending email thread that rivals the horror of an accidental reply-all. Recently I found myself caught in such a thread among well-meaning parents trying to plan a single outing. All they wanted to do was get our kids together, which is admirable, but the whole thing quickly devolved into a shining example of everything that is wrong with anyone trying to plan a get-together, but also more broadly parents today. Yet, underneath the maddening back-and-forth is a valuable lesson about how to properly plan a play date, and more importantly, how not to.

Before we get to the email, a few caveats. I’m a parent who lives in Los Angeles, and parents in general are horrible, but parents in Los Angeles are extra horrible, especially with regards to their toddler birthday parties. The joke L.A. Twitter account Los Feliz Daycare, which is meant to satirize and mock the bougie hyper-precious preschool experience of coastal elites, is actually only a slight exaggeration of reality:

What’s more, I’m complicit in the culture here. My kid has been doing yoga since she was 2 years old, has already been in at least one commercial, and is conversant in the meaning of every type of crystal. It is totally okay for you to hate me, but let us join together to hate these other people more, shall we?

The Email

The email began innocently enough as a request to reunite the kids from our old preschool. “Greetings old friends!” Person Whose Idea It Was to Do This said. “I was thinking today about how much we miss being close to the preschool director and what an incredible foundation she gave all of our little ones. We haven’t all seen each other in so long, our kids are growing up fast and we really like you guys! It would be wonderful to have them all reconnect. Pictures on Facebook aren’t cutting it and it would be lovely to nurture some longer lasting friendships.”

“Who would be game to all meet up for a reunion?”

This was all well and good. It’s a lovely sentiment and these are lovely people. We should’ve all stayed in touch! Why didn’t we!? Let’s correct this posthaste.

Then, she wrote: “Throwing out some dates: 11/4; 11/5; 11/11; 11/12.”

::gong sound::

Parents, much like children, should never be given too much choice. The idea here is to put feelers out for availability — of course we want to ensure the greatest number of people can attend, especially the guest of honor — but asking a dozen or so parents to pick a date out of FOUR DATES is asking for trouble.

Best-case scenario is literally everyone will start listing all their preferred dates and we will all descend into madness. Worst-case scenario, everyone will list their first available date, then second date, and possibly even third. They will then proceed to give us all detailed reasons why they can or can’t attend some dates but not others, as if anyone actually cares, as we all descend into complete mania from which we shall never return.

Trouble was hereby summoned; and trouble appeared immediately, as trouble is wont to do.

From Preschool Director:

So sweet!! I would love to see everyone: )

I am available any of those dates except the 12th.

Ha, okay. So the guest of honor can make it any three dates except the 12th. Wait, what were the other dates again? Gotta go back and read the email.

Right! So now we’ve narrowed it down to three dates: 11/4; 11/5; 11/11. Surely this will make it easier to figure it out. (Hint: Ask Guest of Honor best date for them, then merely tell everyone that date and time and hope for the best.)

From Parent 1:

What a great idea, Person Whose Idea It Was to Do This!! Thanks for organizing. It would be great to see everybody! I know schedules are probably kinda crazy with sports and other activities. We can make 11/4 in the morning/early afternoon (would need to leave by noonish), 11/5 late afternoon-evening, and 11/11 after 1:30pm. Even if we can only make part of the time, we would love to see everybody and see how much the kids have grown (and the parents have remained ageless, of course :). We had another baby who just started at Guest of Honor’s and he is LOVING it.

Take care,

Parent 1

Hmmm. Parent 1 would really like to do this. Schedules are definitely kind of crazy. Just so you know, her kids do activities — sports even. Parent 1 proceeds to list when they can do it on the three remaining days, including when they’d need to leave. Get to spreadsheeting, Person Whose Idea It Was to Do This.

Person Whose Idea It Was to Do This:

Let’s explore late afternoon times! Anyone else have ideas?

Sorry what? Late afternoon times when? On all the days? What were those dates again? Okay: 11/4; 11/5; 11/11. (Hint: Never explore dates! List dates, and tell people when the party is. Never explore! Exploring is bad!)

From Parent 2:

Hi Person Whose Idea it Was to Do This!

We love this idea!! We can’t do November 4th but the other dates are good. I plugged in in the Doodle that you created! Child is voting for the beach but really Park or Beach, either way!

Thank you for the initiative!!!

Okay so Parent 2 has emailed us all to let us know she can’t do the one day, 11/4. Wait, so what are the days she can do? ::Looking back through email:: Ah yes, 11/5 and 11/11. Also, where is this Doodle?

Reader, are you keeping track so far?

Guest of Honor:

All days except 11/12

Parent 1:

11/4 but only if they can leave by noonish; 11/5 only if it’s late afternoon to early evening; 11/11 but ONLY if it’s after 1:30 p.m.

Parent 2:

No to 11/4, but any other day is cool if it’s at the park or beach or whatever!

From Parent 3:

What a great idea, Person Whose Idea It Was to Do This! We’d love to see everyone! I’ll add the dates we are available into the survey. Thank you for organizing. And the picture of your new little one is adorable! Congratulations!!

Best,

Parent 3

Awesome.

From Parent 4:

This is Parent 4, Child’s dad. 11/4 would be ideal for us. 11/5 we could do afternoon. 11/11 & 11/12 we’re out of town.

Hope everyone is well.

Hahah WHAT. Okay: Parent 4 can’t do the day that’s already been eliminated (11/12), but just wanted to let us know (But why? God, why?). 11/4 would be best. 11/5 is okay but ONLY if it’s the afternoon. And then no to 11/11 also. Whew.

Quick, what day is best for everyone so far? Durrrrrrrrrrrr.

From Parent 6:

Hi Person Whose Idea It Was to Do This,

What a wonderful idea! I just did another referral for Guest of Honor! And going down memory lane is always great. We are out of town the first weekend in November (but that could change). We are here for sure the weekend of the 11th and 12th. Child 1 has a bday party on the 11th at 2 or 3 PM (Child 2 got the invite). We could even swing the following weekend November 17 and 18th.

Thanks for organizing and for the great idea! Love you little ones.

Pop quiz: Who is dead? Just me?

Okay, let’s put our heads together here. 11/4 is out for Parent 6 — maybe — but 11/11 is okay if it’s not during the hours of 2 or 3 to 4 or 5 p.m. They are open to doing 11/17 or 11/18, but no one even suggested that weekend as an option, not even once! For the record, I am available around this time next year, but I’m not going to email that.

From Person Whose Idea It Was to Do This:

Hey everybody,

Based on the doodle, this Sunday the 5th between 1 and 4:30. However several families didn’t vote.

Should we revisit Sunday the 12th and possibly the weekend of the 17th and 18th?

Wait wait wait we had a time! We had a time, people! For the love of God, we had a time: Sunday the 5th. Sure it was during a nearly four-hour block of time on a Sunday but

We.

Had.

A.

Time.

Hey, here’s an idea: Let’s open voting back up to two more choices — 11/12, which, for the record, if you remember (and you don’t) the Guest of Honor cannot actually attend in the first place! Let’s keep it fun, and now add another full weekend of possibilities to this schedule: 11/12, but also 11/17 and 11/18.

From Parent 3:

Looks like we can be there the 5th. The only day without Soccer!

Parent 3 is now just letting us know that 11/5 is okay. Wow, that’s the ONLY DAY WITHOUT SOCCER. What’s that like? That must be crazy? Can’t wait to hear all about it.

From Person Whose Idea It Was to Do This:

Great, Parent 3!

Parent 5, did you guys end up going out of town this weekend?

::falls to floor, weeping::

From Parent 5:

Hi Person Whose Idea It Was to Do This and everyone!

Yes, we are still going down to San Diego. But, we will be driving back on Sunday after breakfast midmorning. If at all possible if we can do the 2 pm to 5 or 6 pm times that would give us some additional time to get there and allow us to hopefully see some people. It’ll be pushing it for us but at least we will be there for a bit. Where are we meeting? Should we bring anything?

Thank you!

Parent 5

::begins having seizures::

From Person Whose Idea It Was to Do This:

Great! Let’s do 2:30–5 this Sunday at the park. Just an easy playdate. No need to bring anything but yourselves!

Ha yes, easy indeed. Too bad I’m already dead.