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Birthday parties: To drop off or not?

Valerie Kellogg's son Harrison

Valerie Kellogg's son Harrison Credit: Newsday / Valerie Kellogg

It was Sunday morning, and I was getting over a violent cold and just could not bear the thought of the start time on the invitation for a birthday party at Monster Mini Golf -- 10 a.m.

If you've been to the Deer Park 18-hole indoor course, you know it's a multisensory experience of glow-in-the-dark ghouls (like my son, here), wild party music and lots of ambient sound.

Still, it was a birthday party for one of his friends -- of course I was going to take him.

As soon as we got there, my son's friend's mother said enthusiastically, "You can drop him off!" What was implied, in the most considerate way: Go! Go shopping! Go get a manicure! Go do anything, but don't feel obligated to stay here! I thanked her and told her I planned to stay. I always stay for parties -- I want to be there in case my son needs me, but I also have other motives.

Back when my son started kindergarten and we began organizing birthday parties with his school friends, we made sure to make the gatherings as much for us as for him. Some wonderful friendships have blossomed over grown-up refreshments and non-finger-foods as the kids ran around and played. We helped friends find new friends.

My morning under the black light with a cough turned out really nice, catching up with the other mothers -- now my friends -- about vacation plans and bra fittings and motorcycle lessons and job frustrations and teachers next year.

Parents, what do you consider to be the right etiquette? Do you stay for parties? Or drop the kids off? What do you like other parents to do when you're the host?

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