It's his party and I'll cry if I want to... I'll just do it in private

Derek Nash with his son Alex, 5

Marisa Mackle

Look. I need to weigh in on this debate.

Now I know that the world and his wife seems to have an opinion on the five-year-old boy in Britain who was recently invoiced for failing to attend another kid's birthday party. Parents were scandalised. The youngster, Alex, and his dad, Derek Nash (inset), were photographed everywhere.

Who could have thought a child's birthday party would make such huge news? But to be honest it was a story that most parents can relate to. We all know just how ridiculously stressful it is to host a kiddie party.

I, for one, sympathise hugely with the mother who had to pay for the no-show. Birthday parties for kids cost an absolute fortune.

Parties for grown-ups are considerably cheaper because good friends will be happy to share a few bottles of wine and a couple of bumper crisp bags. We can entertain ourselves. Kids cannot.

You must pay to have them entertained. I know, this might sound terrible, and people will lament that 'in our day' children were happy with a few games, pass the parcel, musical statues, a run in the park and a home-made birthday cake. But that was then and this is now.


Back in the day we were a lot simpler. We played outdoors, we didn't have electronic gadgets and nobody expected us to be entertained by paid performers. I remember we all went to the local park on my birthday.

Some of us went in Mum's car and the others went in Dad's car. We were all crammed in as there was no law about seatbelts. I'm fairly sure a couple of us travelled in the boot. That wouldn't happen now.

My parents organised a treasure hunt and we all split up, roaming the park in search of our wrapped gifts. You couldn't do that now. God no. You cannot let other people's kids, nor indeed your own, out of your sight for a second. All fun must be strictly supervised.

So anyway, this lady in England invoiced the parents of a boy when he failed to turn up for a party he had RSVP'd to. I get it.

I mean, I get that the host's mummy was annoyed. Many venues require pre-payment. The woman was out the money for a child that wasn't there.

Of course, I would never dream of invoicing another parent myself. Most of us wouldn't. But we'd secretly like to. After all, it is very rude to accept a party invitation and not show up.

On my son's third birthday party one boy didn't appear. The mother never apologised, nor did she give my son a gift, like the others did who couldn't make the party.

To this day, if I spot the woman around, I feel myself getting annoyed.

She showed no respect whatsoever to me or my son. Would I have liked to send her an invoice?

You bet. But luckily the party was at home and I hadn't had to fork out for a setting. My son will be six next week.

We're getting a bouncy castle for the garden. Yes, it's February but the kids can wrap up well.

If somebody doesn't show up, I won't care. And if I do care, I'll keep my feelings to myself. Anything else is beyond awkward.