There’s a story floating around the Internet right now about a 5-year-old who was sent a bill for £15.95 (approximately $24) for not showing up to a friend’s birthday party in England. As the BBC reports, Alex Nash, from Cornwall, was invited to the party (at a ski and snowboard slope) just before Christmas. His parents accepted the invite before they realized he was already scheduled to spend time with his grandparents, which he ended up doing instead. His parents have told various media outlets they didn’t know how to reach the schoolmate’s mom to cancel.
That mom, Julie Lawrence, was so upset they didn’t notify her in advance that she invoiced them for the cost of attending. But she didn’t address them directly. Instead, the Nash’s found the invoice in an envelope in their son’s backpack. Derek Nash tells the BBC, “It was a proper invoice with full official details and even her bank details on it.” Nash then went to the address on the invoice to confront Lawrence at home and found out she was serious about charging him the $24 no-show fee based on a conversation they’d had before the holidays. “She saw me and asked if Alex was coming to the party. At this time I agreed and said that Alex was looking forward to it,” he told the Plymouth Herald.
Derek says he understands that she’s upset about losing money. “The money isn’t the issue, it’s the way she went about trying to get the money from me. She didn’t treat me like a human being, she treated me like a child and that I should do what she says.”
Lawrence issued a short response to the BBC: “All details were on the party invite. They had every detail needed to contact me.”
The parents then took the fight to Facebook and a local newspaper picked up on the story and ran it in the paper which, according to Gawker, included the following exchanges:
Julie Lawrence: “I don’t like fighting with people. This is not the first time Alex has not turned up to a party that he has been invited to, either … the amicable way round this I believe would be to pay me the money and let a lesson be learnt.”
Alex’s mom: “Like I said before, no money was mentioned when we spoke … I am not a child, so please do not speak to me like I am one.”
The lesson learned? If you RSVP to a party and can’t show up, let the host know. It’s the polite thing to do. If someone is a no-show to your party, you take a page out of Elsa’s book and LET IT GO. $24 isn’t worth ruining your child’s friendship with another child over and any decent parent would realize that immediately. The third lesson? If someone invoices you for not showing up to a party, the answer isn’t to take your kid on a media tour, splashing his photo everywhere and forcing him to live with that forever. If someone has the gumption to charge you for not showing up, pay the stupid bill.
But the biggest lesson for all of us parents is chill out about birthday parties for kids, man. Have a few kids over for games, cake, ice cream, and presents and that’s it. If you’re spending $24 a head for kids that’s your problem (and your choice) — and putting a bill in a 5-year-old’s backpack for not showing up is a ridiculously spiteful response that you had to know would ruin your child’s friendship.
Verdict: Nobody wins here and the kids are the ones losing out the most.
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