I Don’t Want To Sign A Contract So My Kid Can Go To Your Party
By Kelly Pedro
PHOTO © darby/Twenty20
Mar 1, 2019
I love it when my kids are invited to birthday parties and I get to discover all of the crazy options I never had.
A birthday party at a rock climbing gym? Fun. Cuddle with an animal at the humane society? Sweet. A cooking party where the kids bring home dinner? Yes, please!
One thing I don’t love: the contracts that sometimes come with them.
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My youngest was recently invited to a birthday party and the contract that was attached to the invitation read like something that came out of a third-year law class. Would I waive my moral rights to any pictures taken? Would I hold the organization harmless? Would I pay their legal fees if a third party happened to sue them for something my child may or may not have done?
I wanted my daughter to go to her friend’s birthday party — I just didn’t want to risk losing my house so that she could attend.
And I’m not even talking about the waivers needed for trampoline parks or rock-climbing gyms either. The party my youngest was invited to was fairly tame — gathering in a party room where they would eat some cake and do some activities.
“Have you read this contract?” I asked my husband as my youngest pleaded with me to just sign the paper already.
I wanted my daughter to go to her friend’s birthday party — I just didn’t want to risk losing my house so that she could attend. Yes, I know boilerplate contracts are all the rage, but do we really need contracts for kids’ birthday parties? Whatever happened to common sense and common courtesy?
It’s not just birthday parties, either. Whenever my kids bring home a permission form to go on a field trip, there’s always an extra form stapled to it. On that sheet of paper, I have to tick a box to acknowledge that, yes, I know there are inherent risks in any field trip. And yes, I do know that I can buy insurance for my child, but no, I don't want it.
I normally sign that paper without thinking twice. But when the contract came stapled with the birthday party invite, I hesitated.
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“Is this the hill you want to die on?” my husband asked as I pored over the contract and told him what it all really meant.
“That’s not the point,” I said. “It’s the principle.”
I would let our youngest go, I decided, but scratch out the parts of the contract I didn’t agree with.
When the day of the party arrived, my husband offered to take our daughter. I told him to hold firm. I told him not to sign the contract as is. When he arrived at the party location, the front desk staff asked if he had signed the contract. He hadn’t, he said. But he soon did. When our youngest came home giddy and full of cake, I asked her how the party went.
“It was awesome!”
"Did anyone take your picture?" I asked her. "Did you spill water on the floor causing someone to trip? Did you accidentally elbow another kid in the eye?"
“No,” she said looking at me like I had three heads.
“It was so fun!” she squealed. “Can I have my birthday party there next year?”
This post was updated for clarification on March 4, 2019.
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