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Old 02-04-2012, 05:17 PM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
5,740 posts, read 8,971,886 times
Reputation: 3858

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I would love to get some advice if I could.

We have some neighbors down the street who are expecting their second child in a week or so. They're very nice, and we're loosely friends with them. I say "loosely" because we've been to each other's houses once each, although we run into them frequently on the street. We like them a lot, but we're not close, and they politely declined our last offer to do something together (schedule conflict) and haven't followed up.

Two female neighbors came up with the idea that everyone should cook for the couple and their existing child after the baby is born. The proposal is that each family each cook a meal that would last them three nights, so that dinners for the six weeks after the birth are covered. The two organizers have asked folks (via e-mail) to pick a night on which to provide this dinner, which is supposed to be enough for three nights.

My wife and I both work full-time and seldom even cook for ourselves. (We eat a lot of takeout.) Additionally, my wife has health issues, and her job is very high-stress, and so she's especially tired in the evenings. So as you can imagine, the cooking idea is a tall order for us. The two women who came up with this idea to my knowledge don't work full-time, so what seems like a very doable idea to them would be a real burden for us and perhaps for others as well.

Also, I'm from the South, and providing meals to a neighbor when there's a death in the family is customary--but a baby? I've never heard of that. It's not like a baby is a surprise. Besides, will they really want to eat the same thing three nights in a row? And what about food allergies or dislikes?

As far as their dinners, I would imagine that after the baby comes, they would probably just do what we do all the time for dinner--eat takeout, frozen dinners, leftovers from lunch, etc. Or have food delivered. And they do have family in the DC region who could bring food to them. We'd be happy to drop off a store-bought dessert, perhaps--we already gave a baby gift--but feeding a family for three days because they had a baby? It sounds like something out of "Little House on the Prairie."

So we're trying to think of a way to politely opt out without seeming like we're just lazy or uncaring. The e-mail was sent openly to a list of several households, so not responding will be obvious. (The way they did this leaves us feeling a little pressured.) That would also leave the ones who do cook scrambling to fill one of the date periods. I've suggested to my wife that she simply e-mail the two women organizing this effort and say that while it's a generous gesture, we really don't feel up to it, for the reasons I stated above. (Otherwise, they may wonder why we haven't picked one of the proposed set of cooking dates.)

Does that sound like a good response?

Thanks for any thoughts.

Last edited by Carlingtonian; 02-04-2012 at 05:27 PM..
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Old 02-04-2012, 06:09 PM
 
10,606 posts, read 12,134,907 times
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While the people organizing this certainly have their heart in the right place, it does seem really excessive me.

First of all, I have managed to birth two children while working full time and I was not an invalid for 6 weeks. I was perky enough to start cooking after about a week and I did so.

Second, there is NO WAY I would want that much food coming into my house nor would I want to eat the same thing for three nights in a row. I don't do that for two nights in a row now and I, who cook all the time, would be hard pressed to come up with something that could feed a family of three for three nights. And if I did, well, it's probably not that good!!!

Honestly, I think people should do what they want to do and not be pressured into something for this amount of time. Very, very different matter if someone has cancer and is going through chemo.

Now, how to tactfully get out of this...I'm not sure there's a way to do it and come off good in these ladies' eyes. They sound a bit controlling. Since I'm in my 40s and no longer care what people think of me, I would just tell the truth. Respond to the inquiry by saying that both of you work long days, rarely even cook for yourselves, and do not have any idea on how/what to cook for three people to last for three days. Tell them it is beyond your expertise to do this and that you will be doing your own thing for these neighbors. I would have almost suggested that you volunteer to do a salad or something to go with someone's meal; however, the six week thing just blew that. You'd be on the hook for a long time.

But.....I don't have a big circle of friends so you may not want to take my advice. I just can't handle this type of thing. Well, I guess I do handle it but it doesn't win me any popularity contests.
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Old 02-04-2012, 06:17 PM
 
1,829 posts, read 2,596,763 times
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Or, if you want to contribute but just can't for the very reasons you've stated how about contributing a gift certificate to a nearby restaurant, or even Dominoes, Papa Johns or something like that. Little kids like pizza and then they can use it whenever they want.
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Old 02-04-2012, 06:17 PM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
5,740 posts, read 8,971,886 times
Reputation: 3858
Christine, THANK YOU so much! And not just because you happen to agree with me--though I regard that as an excellent trait in others.

The woman giving birth is really nice and I'm sure would not want us all to go out of our way like this. And you're right; there is some "controlling" going on a little with the one organizer. (She's a complete Type-A "I have all the ideas, so let's do it my way" type.) We're not super-tight with any of these neighbors, so neither of us could really give a s--- if our politely declining makes them think we're awful people. (To me, that judgment would reflect on them rather than us.) I swear, it feels like an episode of Desperate Housewives.

Anyway--thanks again! So glad to hear that at least one person (and one who's a habitual provider of great advice) doesn't think we're being class-A jerks.
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Old 02-04-2012, 06:22 PM
 
Location: Novastan
384 posts, read 901,613 times
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I would just send the organizers a nice e-mail and just say your are unable to participate. I wouldn't go into details. Don't feel bad! Most people in northern virginia understand the intense work schedules.
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Old 02-04-2012, 06:22 PM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
5,740 posts, read 8,971,886 times
Reputation: 3858
Quote:
Originally Posted by choff5 View Post
Or, if you want to contribute but just can't for the very reasons you've stated how about contributing a gift certificate to a nearby restaurant, or even Dominoes, Papa Johns or something like that. Little kids like pizza and then they can use it whenever they want.
Choff, thanks; that's a great idea. (My one concern is that it might feel a little like we're giving them money.) Definitely worth considering, though.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pandoras View Post
I would just send the organizers a nice e-mail and just say your are unable to participate. I wouldn't go into details. Don't feel bad! Most people in northern virginia understand the intense work schedules.
Thanks! That would work quite well if we didn't know all these folks and see them from time to time. I feel somewhat obligated to give them some explanation, lest they chatter behind our backs about how lame we are. (We live on a very gossipy block.) Anyway, we've drafted an e-mail and are going to sleep on it.
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Old 02-04-2012, 06:25 PM
 
19,183 posts, read 28,376,156 times
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That's too weird. Six weeks? For a second child? And these are normal, healthy adults? It's nice when a grandma or two can come in for week or so until the new mom is back on her feet and all, but maybe your two female neighbors just need to get in touch with the local soup kitchen or something.

Last edited by saganista; 02-04-2012 at 06:40 PM..
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Old 02-04-2012, 06:30 PM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
5,740 posts, read 8,971,886 times
Reputation: 3858
Quote:
Originally Posted by saganista View Post
That's too weird. Six weeks? For a second child? And these are normal, healthy adults? It's nice is when a grandma or two can come in for week or so until the new mom is back on her feet and all, but maybe your two female neighbors just need to get in touch with the local soup kitchen or something.
Oh, my God. Thank you, Saganista!

I can't tell all of you how gratifying it is to see our gut feeling vindicated. Sometimes we feel like we're not quite Martha Stewart enough for this neighborhood.
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Old 02-04-2012, 06:31 PM
 
15,782 posts, read 9,528,218 times
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I agree with your take on it Carl. I'd respond via email just to the project initiators. My email would say something like: "What a great idea! As it happens, though, we've already chosen a different way to welcome the new baby. Good luck with your project - they're sure to appreciate whatever you're able to do. Thanks for including us on the initial distribution."

<sigh>

ETA: oops was interrupted while posting and now there are tons more posts lol. I agree with everyone! Especially Pandora saying no explanation - I really wouldn't get into much beyond what I said in my email example here.
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Old 02-04-2012, 06:33 PM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
5,740 posts, read 8,971,886 times
Reputation: 3858
Quote:
Originally Posted by toosie View Post
I agree with your take on it Carl. I'd respond via email just to the project initiators. My email would say something like: "What a great idea! As it happens, though, we've already chosen a different way to welcome the new baby. Good luck with your project - they're sure to appreciate whatever you're able to do. Thanks for including us on the initial distribution."

<sigh>
Thanks, Toosie! That sounds like a very classy response.
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