At the party

I had a question to ask some of the ladies I met at the kiddie birthday party a few days ago.

This one to the SAHM who I was talking to and casually asked, so what do you do?

‘Oh I’m home, raising my son,’ says she.

I smiled and looked around at the crowds of kids milling around. ‘Which one is he?’

‘IΒ  don’t know where he is,’ she shrugged… ‘he’s somewhere with the maid.’

Right. So you’re home doing nothing but raising a five year old and still can’t manage him at a party sans maid!


To the Working Mom who I was in conversation with – ‘And which one is yours?’

Shrug. ‘No idea. I’m so tired after the work week that I don’t have the strength to chase him around at a party. He’s with the maid.’

Right. So you’re either busy working or too tired to be with him.

The conversations went on and my impressions weren’t formed on just those lines incase you imagine so. These were just the most striking lines to my mind. For oneΒ  – the only time I saw them with their children was when they were on the way out. And then they were rather impressed that the OA was attending the baby party with me and we hadn’t brought a maid for help. They wanted to know how I got him to ‘help out’ and attend.

I smiled and said – By setting a good example and also reminding him that he is a father, not a sperm donor. I don’t think they liked me much.


Three mothers giggle in a corner and tease a five year old boy – ‘Really, there are no return gifts at this party. Go ask aunty. First – how is that funny? Second – do you really want to teach your five year old to ask for gifts? While I frantically tell the 22 month old Bean to shush up and not put her hand out for one.

Another five year old little boy is getting mercilessly teased. His head was probably shaved at some point because his hair has grown back but the little choti that is left sometimes, has grown long and comes down to his collar. The other children cruelly make clicking sounds and ask him if its his tail. His eyes are carefully lined with kohl. Which is so not on at a snooty Delhi party where the kids wear designerwear. Are you a girl? tease the other children.

He ignores them and runs around beign destructive. The hostess just about prevents him from knocking over the table with the cake. At the activity counter he drives the party organisers nuts by throwing paint everywhere. A maid follows him with an untouched plate of pasta and tries to discipline him unsuccessfully.

The organisers are painting nameplates for the kids on various cardboard cutouts. I get one made for the Bean and help the Brat create one for himself. The maid imperiously orders them to hurry up with the nameplate for her ward. They ask her his name. While she might have the airs of a big businessman’s wife, she’s still an uneducated maid and she says something completely unintelligible. The two party organisers ask her to repeat and finally try to spell the name that sounds like nothing on earth. I ask her where the parents are and she says they never come. I finally understand her Bengali accent and realise what she is trying to say. I correct them and tell them what the name should be. On checking with the hostess, I’m right. I should have let the nameplate go back with the wrong name. The child can’t read and his parents should learn what comes of just sending a kid off to every single party with a maid – even those held on Sundays.


So the OA and I are probably the only fools who chase kids around the party, feed them cake, pull them out of ball ponds, prevent them from greedily stuffing their face with fries and rudely asking for the return gift. It shouldn’t really matter to us. Except that our kids are growing up in the company of these ill mannered hooligans who learn their manners from the domestic help and run riot.

I’m going to be generous and say it’s even okay to bring along a maid for a family party because you would like to catch up with your friends and family. But this is a baby birthday party. It’s about the children. You’re there for the children and for them to enjoy themselves. Not to sit around in high heels while the maids help your children to paint nameplates… Wake up before their childhood slips away.


39 thoughts on “At the party

  1. Yes, I agree that its ultra-important to teach kids manners- but how many people in India actually do that? I have known my fair share of spoilt brats whose parents don’t teach them to pick up after themselves, go to a party and wreak havoc in that house, not throw rubbish in a dustbin… the list is endless!

    An incident comes to mind- in a party, one of the kids (my niece, who’s mother teaches her to clean up after playing), started clearing up all the toys that everydody had been playing with. And another little girl said to her-
    You are a maid! You are doing maid’s work!

    Ah well!

  2. And it’s not OK to send a little kiddy home without ensuring he gets something to eat at his own ‘friend’s birthday party. As a mother I will not beg for food. The hostess has outsourced everything else, she can bloody well do her own hospitality.

    This needs a link to my ayah post. But you’ve read it already.

  3. very nice post..first time it makes me think we are better off here in usa because we have to do all you are doing (no choice)..maybe had i been in delhi i would have taken the easier way and relied on hubby also has to do his share and believe me we go to kiddie birthday parties almost every weekend …discipling them, running around feeding them and making them participate in the games

  4. I’ve never met anyone who didn’t like you much, judgmental mother-of-two.

    Me: damn! that was a smart comment! now i can say nothing but, watch your step or you wont get your stuff back!

  5. I see this happening in Singapore too. Indonesian,Sri Lanka maids are all out at the playground every evening, even if the mom is staying home, the maids bring them.

    I dont know MM.. I am just tired of people and their thinking.

    Oh I was chatting with someone and she said how do I stand staying home with my kids.
    I just smiled.

    She has a 7 month old and I was asking her isnt it such a fun age, the baby responds and laughs and crawls.
    She looked at me and said, I dont have time to do all that with her.
    I was shocked.

  6. Just curious. Are these moms from the *educated* class?
    I was not aware of the trend of having a maid all the time.. though I am aware that leaving the kids at the baby-sitter’s is becoming a common thing with working moms in nuclear families.

  7. LOL @sperm donor comment. You are too good.

    It is sad people have kids just because they have to have kids at some point and because they want to have them. I wont be surprised if these kids grow up and leave their aging parents in some old age home to be taken care of while they party.

  8. You won’t believe, I have met dads who proudly say they never changed a diaper! I mean, what is so smug about it? And even the wife goes…”Yeah, you could never get him to change diapers” with a touch of pride..WTF?

    And then K has to listen to stuff just because he not only helps around the house, but also when he is a guest at someone’s place and he makes sure he offers his help to the hosts to put stuff away while the rest of the men are sitting on their asses in the living room and obviously the ladies are stuck with the clean-up.

    Btw…the whole asking for gifts thing…my mom would have definitely KILLED me if I had tried to pull such stunts. And that was the general rule for other kids too then. When did all that change?

  9. wow! that was wonderful piece, could imagine it all, so well! and especially the last line, sums it all up!

    here in kuwait, where we live, we watch in wonder how the so called maids, literally tag them (children) around, just about anywhere and everywhere, with the parents no where in sight! used to wonder, how big a chunk of the child’s make-up (mental) is influenced by them.

    and to realise that its the same scene in the heart of delhi, is a sad observation!
    youve brought it out so well, as always! πŸ™‚

  10. The kind of extravagant kiddy birthday parties I see, I’m convinced these parties are NOT for the kids at all.

    And I agree with everything you’ve said. I’ve observed the incompetent parenting at such parties but because I have no kids of mine, I can’t say I know better than all those kitty-party type mommies that sit together and gossip while the children and their maids apparently have fun!

  11. this is why you shouldnt stay in delhi! delhi seems like an extremely snooty insensitive place.

    Me: oh but you’d be surprised. i;ve seen them in every city. and i’ve lived in a few…

    i am not married and i wont bring up my kid like that coz i love kids and would like to see every moment of their childhood moment but i would like to make a mental note of not judging others parental ways.

    i mean if they are fine with their maids running after their kids for few hours in parties or other places, isnt it their choice?

    Me: of course it is. just as observing them is my choice!

  12. I have loads to say here. For one MM, don’t bother with what other mothers do, as long as you are doing your job well. I used to get very upset with the way parents ignored their children, but I realised that it is their child, and I really cannot do much about it, and I doubt they will take lessons from me.

    Fathers, well, you will not believe it,but the DH’s own brother, was surprised to see him changing the BB’s diaper. He even commented saying he had barely changed a couple in all his life, and that was sick considering they had three young kids, and live abroad, no house help or anything at all.

    Its very sad to see parents not realising the true importance of their stature, shaping up the entire personality of their child.

  13. This reminds me of how birthday parties used to go, at any kiddie birthday party me and my sis used to get invited to, we’d only go by ourselves as didi took care of me. The parties itself were somewhat how you were describing, we’d have 20 kids, with their moms plus 1 maid for each kid. That made a huge crowd, and I really don’t see the point of coming to a kiddie party and wanting all the importance and attention whilst you don’t even look at your off spring, just don’t come and send your maid, isn’t the kid the center of attention here.

  14. Ok, honestly, I am surprised! I still see kiddie birthday parties which are nothing more than a cake and wafer extravaganza .. nothing so fancy, and that is the whole charm of these growing up years right?? Agreed, times are now changing, and though people throw parties for kids in posh places, I still see parents chasing kids and keeping them out of the way.. feeding cake and the likes.. so your post has left me wondering.. do i circulate in a different society? or do you move about in a very high class circle? or maybe, I am just too out of the loop and now really aware of how things are right now.. just wondering..

  15. people actually bring maids along for bday parties!! i havent been to a big kids bday party so far, so i dont know. i have found a maid to help out during the day, but even now i myself take N out to play every evening; i bathe him myself and i feel really guilty those few times that i sleep in the afternoon when N is awake and has to play with the maid 😦

  16. MM,

    This post leaves me at the losing side where here in the US at every chance I vehemently speak against how people in India parent them better, staying with them, ready to sacrifice a career, if that is not possible stay as much as they can with the kids to shape them and all that stuff – why? because I read your blogs and other mommy blogs from India.

    But this piece, makes me wonder, may be the other side I was arguing with was right about some things – they say MONEY is the key in India these days.

    I seriously hope, this is just the minority who shape their children with maids. If not, we might have to start writing books for “How to be a better MAID” when you are taking care of a kid. Seriously.

  17. MM,what is wrong with these people? They don’t like to spend time with their kids? What else would they rather do every single Sunday?
    Just came back from a party where a 9 yr old girl was carrying this baby elephant like creature while the mother complained about being tired from all the parenting. A really frail 9 yr old…

  18. You know, MM is just wonder why people seem to think that having kids is just about popping them out. Not about raising them- that is basically what parenting is. As an analogy animals have litters- but they are not parents- people who raise kids are. Somehow for most humans the “parenting” is replaced by producing em. I cannot understand how one would “sacrifice” for one’s kids( sacrifice for me is a dirty word like compromise, it would be a huge burden for the kids- every time you looked at them, you would think, I sacrificed…..) or put their upbringing on other shoulders( parents, in laws, maids… etc etc). Possibly that is why I do not have any as yet- I would like to enjoy parenting them- sans guilt, sans “sacrifice” and more for the pleasure of it.

    But this episode is a very very common thing. Oh the little monsters I have seen (enough to turn one of reproducing all together).

  19. How sad is that. We can look forward to a nation of callous ill mannered people who can’t for a moment put themselves in another’s shoe and (sigh) “see what a drag it is to be them” (apologies to Bob Dylan)

    Not only do I NOT have a maid to run behind my 4 year old, I also do everything at home by myself – I sweep, mop, do the dishes, clothes – with of course, generous help from the better half πŸ™‚ And I ALWAYS proclaim this with pride at the more snootier parties and get an incredulous “You clean your house yourself????” to which I gleefully reply, “Sure. Whose house do you clean?”

    I’m not very popular at snooty parties πŸ™‚

    Me: ROFL. I can see why. you’d be welcome at mine though!!

  20. You’re tough MM. As a mother who sometimes *has* to send her child to birthday parties with her maid (when insensitive SAHMs organize birthday parties mid week, when they *know* that some children have working mothers), I winced at some bits in this post.

    Me: As a once SAHM – I cringed at the ‘insensitive’ part! Birthdays are thrown on the child’s birthday na? Not to suit other kids’ parents! πŸ™‚

    It kinda worries me that other mothers in the parties referenced above in my comment are probably judging my capabilities as a mother too, and feeling sorry for the rogue :).


    Me: Yes, I’m tough Aqua – on most issues concerning children as you would have seen on my other posts! They’re too young to speak up for themselves and if we’re ready to fight for Canadian seals, stray dogs and much else – well I’ll pick neglected and unruly kids as my cause! :p

    This was a Sunday. And its not about mothers. The OA was there too. Surely its not too much to expect atleast one parent to have time for their child on a Sunday! I’m not a regular part of the social group whose party I attended but all the mothers admitted that they’d never seen this child’s parents at any of the class birthday parties.

    Its a working day and I just took the first two hours of the morning off to attend the brat’s sports day. I’m also on the PTA. I dont expect anyone else to do all that i do – but a birthday party on a sunday afternoon?

  21. oh a post after my own heart. i go to work, so the maid takes care of him during the day in any case! i HATE taking her along to any other place we are going.

    Me: totally. she needs a break from the kid. i want some time with them. and its mostly awkward for me as well as her. simple

    i never have and dont intend to. and i hope i can make it happen that way. for many its a status symbol to have a mail trailing along. often i have seen two maids being asked to take care of 5 other kids while they are it! sigh!

    as for badly behaved kids, what anooys me is not the fact that kids are doing all this, but the fact that parents dont bother correcting them. after having a kid, i KNOW that there are days when a perfectly well behaved kid goes nuts and there isnt much one can do about it.

    Me: totally. i have nothing against badly behaved kids. i have something against the parents who are doing nothing to prevent/curb it.

    but then to see it happen often enough and still not do anything is just the worst thing to do. to the kid!


  22. I judge people who need maids to handle their children in a party. I am a working mom and when I am home the maid has nothing to do with my child, unless, I have my hands deep into something. When we go to a mall, both of us take turns to engage the toddler. If I am shopping for my clothes, the husb runs around her and vice-versa. I often seen kids in their maids’ laps, dozing off or being fed and I feel like giving the mother a piece of my mind. Nothing annoys me more than seeing a maid carrying the baby while the mother has five shopping bags in her hand.

  23. oh my!!! that’s child neglect. in the u.s they would take away the child if treated such. well not quite because an adult was watching them (the maid). but really what’s the point of having babies. recently i overheard someone leaving their 2 year old with grandparents in india because the parents have to work.. i almost dropped the bag of groceries when i heard that.

  24. Hey I remember attending tonnes of birthdays as kids. We were real naughty brats – but we were never destructive. We had a couple of moms and dads around and maybe one or two maids and that was it.We never had any individual maids.

    Recently we had the one-year barsi of my husband’s grandfather. His brother’s kids & wife didn’t attend t 12:30 on a Sunday afternoon because it was too much work getting 3 kids ready so soon – and she has 2 maids. I think that is really sad. We were allowed to miss a birthday or two once in a while, but missing these was a complete no no.

    Maybe I just think my mom was perfect – but handling 2 kids, a fulltime job, a husband who was sailing quite a bit and she managed all of this and much more. I respect the fact that being in a defence colony, the support system in terms of friends and maids was pretty strong – but it was most certainly not strong in terms of family.We had no family down south where we spent a significant amount of time.

    I have a job I love right now. We’r thinking of starting a family end of this year. I have also decided that when I am about 7-8 months along, I’m going to qut work for a couple of years and spend time with my kid. Alot of my friends have told me this is stupid, but I don’t think so. Another person can do my work, but only I can bring up my child.

  25. Errmmmm. Do I even begin here? You know I am the social pariah too. Why parties, I now live in a complex where all the kids are brought down to the park by maids. Or most of them at least. And the mothers are off either working or gymming or socialising. Ah well. But I chose to be the maid, so I mustnt complain.

    Me: i’ll sit in your pariah corner with you

  26. In the creche at our flat where I used to put Sonny boy for a while, it used to amaze me that no other mom (there were plenty of kids smaller than him there) had a problem with the early closing hours. until I found that except for me and another lady, all the rest of them were SAHMs!!! who had no time to look after their babies.
    and am talking of women who have a maid and a cook at home!
    Still find it quite unbelievable. Snobs- almost every single one of them, and totally self centered! And they almost always either sing praises about their kids’ achievements/whine about the lack of it, never seeming to enjoy them for their own little sakes. B’day parties apparently (I heard)are a way of one-upmanship here- as to who had the etter cake and who gave out more goodies and who had the better food etc.

  27. To the commenters who talk about mothers and their responsibilities here (going off socializing, shopping, etc while the maids handle the kids), just wanted to say that the post was about PARENTS. Why blame only the mothers? Where are the fathers? Surely on a weekend, they can take the kids out for a party or two as MM and her spouse have done? Or handle the child while the mother goes shopping or even to the gym? The mothers may have handed off the kids to the maids because the father are so uninvolved, its either the maids or insanity.

    I think we give our own sex a raw deal by blaming them for bad mothering when its clear that in many cases, the child has two parents and its just bad parenting. Parenting is hard enough as it is and women face enough guilt over working and being a parent as it is to trash them for not spreading themselves too thin over their children when partners don’t pitch in.


  28. The parents will be more badly behaved than the maids for sure, remember they are the people who has abandoned the child not the maid! The maid is often not in a position to teach the child because the child treats the maid exactly in the same way as his parents do and I know that in Delhi they really abuse the maids in front of the children.

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