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Kids and Key Parties . . .

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#1 diary~dad

Posted 08 June 2010 - 10:57 AM

The Party Myth
By Joseph Kelly

Like quite a lot of people I’ve heard about key parties but I’ve never actually been invited to one or even met someone who has admitted going to one.  Which makes me suspect the concept is a myth.  But it’s not the only party myth rife in suburbia – parents have long talked about the “drop-and-go” party, but so far the reality has eluded me.  

The drop and go party, much like the key party, is based on an impossibly simple premise.  You take your kids to a party, push them through the front door and then pick them up at a pre-arranged time.  There’s no awkward small talk with parents you haven’t met before, no having to be the parent yelling out “I THINK THAT'S ENOUGH SUGAR FOR YOU, SWEET PEA!” and, most indulgent of all, no kids for a couple of hours on the weekend.  It sounds almost too good to be true.  And it is.

The first problem with a drop and go party is that it requires a very committed host.  Very very committed.  Not only must the host be able to control their own over-excited birthday child, but they must also have an eye on a murder of toddlers who are just waiting for a sign of weakness from the supervising adult before they tear the joint apart.  The host also has to be insanely confident in their ability to keep the kids entertained, distracted, fed, clean, toileted, unharmed and contained within the borders of the party house.  In my life to date I have not met such a host (although, admittedly, if I had more friends who were prison wardens . . .).

The second problem is that the drop and go party requires you the parent to be confident that your child won’t eat their own body weight in lollies, throw up on their new party clothes and fight the birthday child for the presents.  Even with the most diligent one-on-one supervision, I have personally witnessed this half a dozen times with both Maisie and Frances so the idea of either of them unsupervised at a party leaves me in a cold sweat.  And the few hours without the kids would be little compensation for the awkward moment when you go to pick your child up and the host greets you with “Ah, well, yes . . .  we had a very interesting time . . . Do your children always tear their clothes off when they're excited?”

And lastly you need a child that is happy at being unceremoniously dumped into a social scene that, from the outside, looks like a Quentin Tarentino reinterpretation of Lord of the Flies.  A birthday bash is no place for the faint hearted – kids are flying everywhere, there’s more food to be consumed than kids can comprehend, there is a mind-blowing array of activities and toys to play with and all this is mixed with an endless supply of adrenaline fueling sugar.   Kids have a simple choice: get in or get hurt.  If your child is in anyway reserved or shy, then attending a party without their very own adult guardian is a very scary proposition.

But I’m happy to be told that it’s just me, that other people’s children are well behaved when left unsupervised.  What are your experiences?  Is there a very lively subculture in Australian society that indulges in the odd ‘drop and go’ party?

#2 anon60

Posted 09 June 2010 - 07:46 AM

Nearly all the kids' parties we hosted for our 4 and those they  attended were "drop and go". We always offered the dropping parents refreshements, but didn't expect them to stay for the duration. Sometimes some parents would offer to stay, or DH /I would be asked if we'd like a coffee & something to eat by the host parents, but other than that other parents didn't stay.

Edited by anon60, 09 June 2010 - 07:48 AM.

#3 emma_louise

Posted 09 June 2010 - 01:07 PM

I would espect that it largely a factor of age. At nearly 5, I still stay with James, and other parents do the same. But I recall my own birthday parties from school-age were drop-and-go, and envisage making the shift for him in the next year or so.

#4 Oma Desala

Posted 09 June 2010 - 03:04 PM

We don't just drop and go but then again all the childrens parties we have been invited to we have been great friends of the parents so enjoy catching up with them while the kids run amok.

A little OT but what's a key party? blush.gif

Edited by jays~mummy, 09 June 2010 - 03:05 PM.

#5 anon60

Posted 09 June 2010 - 07:26 PM

QUOTE (jays~mummy @ 09/06/2010, 03:04 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
We don't just drop and go but then again all the childrens parties we have been invited to we have been great friends of the parents so enjoy catching up with them while the kids run amok.

A little OT but what's a key party? blush.gif

It's where the men throw their keys into a bowl at the start of the night, and at the end of the night, take whichever key comes to hand ourt of the bowl, and take the key owner's wife/partner home ie a partner-swap party.

Edited by anon60, 09 June 2010 - 07:27 PM.

#6 3KidsForMe

Posted 10 June 2010 - 08:29 AM

I much prefer a 'drop and go' party. I try to discourage parents from staying. I find the children have a much better time without parents hovering.

#7 mamfa

Posted 10 June 2010 - 09:04 AM

My DH attended a key party at Uni so they do happen.

As for the drop and go parties. i never had this happen with my oldest till she turned 6yr old but my DS had two friends turn up for his 4th whos mum didn't get out of the car. Then for his 5th, all 11 kids were drop and go's.

I think the diffrence is the parents. As you said about making small talk with parents you dont know. This seems to be a big factor. Im close friends with all DD's friends families but dont realy know any of DS's friends parents.

I stay if im friends with the parents but go if i dont know them. I will always stay till DS's hs settled in and ive reminded him of the rules a few times, showed him the toilet and told him how the dog wont like being put in head locks like his does wacko.gif Then i go.

My 3yr old is a long way off being left and i would hope that at her 4th birthday in a few weeks, none of the kids are left unsure.gif


Edited by mamfa, 10 June 2010 - 09:05 AM.

#8 kyrrie

Posted 10 June 2010 - 10:39 AM

DD was at school when she had her first drop and go party.  Before that I stayed (and endured).  That first party all the girls' parents left all the boys' stayed  huh.gif .  So we'll see what happens with DS once he starts school.  Last year DS turned 4 all parents stayed.  DD turned 6 no parents stayed.

It's an age thing usually ... but.  I took DS to a party earlier this year.  The kids were all 4.  All the parents who stayed were friends of the family or knew the family well.  I would have trusted this family to take care of DS but don't think he is old enough to be left yet.  There were about 5 kids whose parents left.  Preschool friends whose parents the birthday mum had never met before.  Doesn't that seem the wrong way round to you??

#9 Empress NG

Posted 10 June 2010 - 12:08 PM

I would espect that it largely a factor of age.

And size.

I regularly had 3 of my sons friends over for playdates from the time they were all in nappies so was quite happy taking that lot to a playcentre when it was his birthday.  I tend to prefer hosting drop and go parties because kids are much easier to control without their parents there.  Maybe that is my inner teacher speaking.  Dh feels the same though.  He has had plenty of kid herding experience though from Nippers and soccer coaching.  

We recently hosted a party for more than a dozen 7yos (mostly very active boys) and that was a challenge.  Would have been much more difficult with parents there though.  The key I find is having structure and a plan and also having backup (ie, an extra adult who can step in if needed).  Our 11yo is also a big help at parties these days.  She is a prefect at school so has no problem bossing the younger kids around. They love it!  lol

#10 howjac

Posted 10 June 2010 - 02:58 PM

I am actually more likely to drop and go when I know the host well than when I don't.  I think usual age to start is about 5 (though we left DS who's not 4 till Sep at a party last weekend - but that's cos I have a broken foot and DH was just off a plane and horrendously jetlagged - probably wouldn't have done it otherwise.  It was a good friend though who I knew I could trust to keep him in line).  I am sure now DD is at school she will be having a lot more drop and go parties.

#11 Gurt

Posted 11 June 2010 - 07:26 AM

I think it is also largely dependant on the age of the children and the number of guests and possibly the venue also. We have had a lot of birthday parties at more public places (like the zoo) where they could get lost in an abundance of others just wandering around rather than if they were in the backyard of someones house which is enclosed.

As for key parties, I don't care whether they are a reality or not because for me, personally, I couldn't imagine anything worse than getting some random person to spend the night with, but maybe I am a prude lol.

Edited by Gurt, 11 June 2010 - 07:26 AM.

#12 apple123

Posted 15 June 2010 - 01:36 PM

I offered drop and go as an option at my son's 4th birthday party, thinking half would stay, but to my surprise all 10 decided to drop and go, even those I'd never met before, Go figure. By age 5 it is definitely all drop and go by everyone we know, except at those large play centres where anything can go wrong and injuries can occur.

#13 BronR

Posted 16 June 2010 - 04:37 PM

I left DS once at a party when he was not quite 4. It wasn't strictly a drop and go party but both DH and I had to sing in a concert so either we dropped and left him there or he couldn't go. The party was for a little girl in mother's group whose parents we have been most friendly with so I knew DS would be happy. Other than that all the parties we have been to all the parents have stayed. Many parties thus far have been in parks too so I don't think any of the parents (hosts or guests) would feel comfortable about drop and go for pre-schoolers in that situation - too many kids for a few eyes to keep track of.

I am guessing maybe next year when DS is in school we may have more drop and go.

#14 pundelina

Posted 16 June 2010 - 04:43 PM

DS7's 5th and 6th birthdays were big parties at our house (20+ kids). Both years it was drop-and-go - I hate it when I have to entertain/tend to adults as well as kids.

#15 Mikeysdad

Posted 10 December 2010 - 03:20 PM

Drop and go??? Go?? Drop and run!!! Then come back when its safe and the kids are ready to sleep once the sugar has worn off lol. biggrin.gif

#16 km78

Posted 30 December 2010 - 05:16 PM

It has never crossed my mind that I could just leave DS (5) at a party. That said if it was one of our friends parties and I had to leave to do something then I would be comfortable to do that. I would never leave him at a party of someone I barely knew and I would not allow that to happen at a party I hosted either.

I need parental supervision, most our parties involve water and/or a pool.

When they are older, yes.......  I may eat my words but even at 10 years old I wouldn't drop and run if I didn't know the parents.

Key party, haha, thats a new one to me too.......

#17 monkey-monkey

Posted 31 December 2010 - 08:46 AM

Not only do i love when my kids attend a "drop and go" party (loove when there is more than one party on in a day and i get rid of a few of them for a few hours!) but i also MUCH prefer to host parties where the parents dont stay. Ofcourse my close friends and family always stay, but by not having to make uncomfortable small talk with parents you barely know it makes the party a much less stressful event for me as a host. I also find that without parents there wathcing my every move i relax a lot more and have a lot more fun with the kids (rather than worrying about if the food is hot enough, drinks are plentiful enough, cake is respectable enough ect!).

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