"Is it 'normal' to bring siblings to a birthday party?"
That's the question one mum is asking on the forum Mumsnet - and it's causing quite the stir.
"Having a kids birthday party in a few Sundays time and quite a few of the RSVPS have asked if siblings can come too. Is this a normal thing? I wasn't intending on having to cater for extra people! Or am I being really mean?"
Well, it turns out that not unlike breastfeeding, circumcision and co-sleeping, sibling party-crashers are quite the polarising parenting issue.
Responses ranged from "well that's a bit to cheeky" to "ummm seriously, relax," to a flat out "how very dare they."
I'm not going to lie, it got heated in there.
But seriously, surely common sense applies, right?
Let's break it down.
If the party is in a Sky Zone or another per-head kind of scenario then unless you're prepared to cough up for your additional child/ren the answer to "can siblings come too?" is clearly "no".
If it's a drop and run party, again, unless you're besties with the party host, leaving additional kids behind is an obvious no. It's a birthday, not a babysitting service.
If you're putting out a few slices of fairy bread and some cheezels in the park on a Sunday afternoon, however, is having a few extra siblings running around really such a big deal?
Full disclosure, I have an only child so I may be approaching the issue from a different lens. I've never had to worry about whether it's okay to bring an extra to a birthday party or arranging childcare so I can take a sibling to their mate's do. But I do have compassion for those who have to juggle - especially single mamas, those who don't have grandparents handy or those whose partners work weekends.
If you bring extras to a party, sure they might get a bash of the pinata and a chocolate crackle, but they might not get a party bag. But so be it, right? And we all know the party bags are for the parents anyway.
Maybe it's because my son attends a small school, so we're a tight-knit group and parties tend to be low-key affairs in the park. Maybe it's because we all know trying to arrange childcare isn't easy and doesn't it take a village? Maybe it's because we quite enjoy one another's company and it's a shame if half a couple has to stay home with siblings while the other enjoys a soft cheese and chat about school politics and property prices. (Oh yes we know how to party!!) But it's always been a "the more the merrier" type thing.
Ultimately, it's pretty simple. If you're a parent, with additional kids in tow, just ask. And if you're a host, it's your prerogative to say no.
Alternatively, just buy an extra bag of chips.