I don't usually plan large events, but recently, on an ambitious day, I decided: Hey, let's have a big party for all the Sophomore students! This Saturday the Sophomore English majors all took a big, important standardized test, the TEM-4. They spent a lot of time studying and preparing, and most of them were pretty nervous about it. So I thought, we could have a big party for them after the test is over! A chance for them to have fun and let go of the weeks of cumulative stress.
Our teammate currently teaches all the Sophomores, and Kevin has taught them all in the past, so we invited all 5 classes, about 130 students total. When our teammates invited the students in class, they all seemed very excited. "I think we should expect a big turnout," he said. "I'd think around 100." That's what I was thinking too, as I planned games and activities. I tried to come up with things that would work well for a really large group of students.
I planned relay games and gathered necessary items. I put together a photo scavenger hunt to do on campus. I bought candy prizes. I baked at least 120 oatmeal cookies and around 100 cookie bars. Our teammate baked some brownies and bought a few snacks as well.
Today the weather was warm and sunny, perfect for an outdoor party. We headed outside at 2:30pm to set up. We were ready. Juliana was excited. 3pm rolled around, and nobody was there.
It started to rain. And by rain, I mean it was partly cloudy with a few sprinkles here and there, not worth an umbrella. The air turned colder. And by colder, I mean 65*F. Surely this wouldn't keep the students from coming?
By 3:15pm, two students had shown up. Two. There was no way we could do our party with two students! We waited a few more minutes, just in case, but it was pretty clear no one was coming. I packed up all the supplies while Juliana cried, "Why can't we have the party? Why did nobody come? I wanted to have a party!" Adalyn was crying after being dragged all over for nothing. I was feeling frustrated, disappointed, and just ticked off.
We invited the two students to our house, and they invited two others as well. If these were the only students who bothered to show up, we could at least make it worth their while. I put aside my frustration and focused on rewarding these few thoughtful students. Juliana cheered up a little bit; she loves playing with students.
We brought out the cookies and encouraged them to eat to their hearts' content. We played Uno and Dr. Seuss Memory. I made up a quick game of "hide the candy," which they really got into. They were interested in the games and happy to be around the kids. At dinnertime we all went to the cafeteria together. The students thanked us for having them over and assured us they really enjoyed it.
So the afternoon was not a total waste, but I won't pretend that it wasn't disappointing. I still feel pretty ticked off. How do 100 people just not show up? And no, they didn't have a conflict, the other students said, "I think they are just busy...it is a little cold out..."
What about the people we know and communicate with regularly? The ones who indicated they would come? Could they really not have told us, "Actually we're not going to come and neither is anyone else from our class."
No, they couldn't tell us that, because we would lose face, and then they would lose face, and then the world would end. It's better to just not show up and pretend like it never happened. It's not the first time this has happened, but never on quite such a large scale.
Maybe we will reschedule the party. I do have 200+ snacks filling up my freezer space, plus the games I went to the trouble of planning. And I did want to do something nice for the Sophomores, although not quite so much just right now. Our teammate will probably mention that nobody came to the party, and they will all feel ashamed, and then everyone will come the next time. Nothing like a guilt-induced party, right?
The best laid plans and all (America). Plans cannot keep up with change (China). Apparently it's a universal principle. There are some lessons you never stop learning. Oatmeal cookie, anyone?