12/1 Update: I received a handful of e-mails re: the spelling of ‘canceling’ vs. ‘cancelling’. Thanks for your e-mails. Both are correct – I use the American English spelling, whereas two l’s is the British or Canadian English spelling. Oh, and I thought of another acceptable excuse: a blizzard or anything that makes it unsafe to travel… so feel free to use that one on me
My plans for an afternoon playdate got canceled for tomorrow. This is not a rant having to do with the person who canceled (she’s one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met and had a legitimate excuse), it’s just canceling in general. It’s like my biggest pet peeve. I need help with this because I’m beginning to think it’s me.
I pride myself on being where I say I’ll be. I have a friend who swears I have canceled before, but I am asking for written proof because I don’t believe it. Whether it’s a playdate, dinner out, charity event, birthday party or family gathering, I only say yes if I can make it and want to make it. I may be 15 minutes late, but I get there.
In my book, there are only two acceptable excuses to cancel:
1. My kid got really sick
2. My team is in the World Series
(Any other excuse such as “my car won’t start” or “I have chicken pox” needs video proof.)
Excuses that are not acceptable to me:
1. I’m tired/just don’t feel like motivating
2. I don’t want to drive that far today
3. I decided to do something else instead
4. I forgot we had plans
I had never been canceled on until I had kids. Since then, I have met quite a few serial cancelers. I’ve just heard so many lame excuses in the past 3 years. I mean, why did you say yes in the first place? I’d rather get a definitive “no” or a totally acceptable “maybe” than a “yes”. When I have plans, they go in my calendar in pen. If I don’t want to see you, I’m not going to make plans with you. If I say yes and I really am not looking forward to it, it’s my own damn fault, not yours.
At this point, I’ve learned not to tell Ryan he’s having a playdate or making Cory come home early until the last minute because my plans frequently get canceled. Even at my party last night, I had 4 last-minute cancellations – 2 were legit, 2 were not. I mean, there are two (and sometimes more) parties involved here (and in some cases, catering!) so why is this a big deal to me and not to the other person? Should I lower my expectations?
Playing Devil’s Advocate, I talked to a flaky friend about this once and she said that she didn’t realize she canceled so much until years later when she got into a huge argument with a close friend. She explained that flaky friends can be fun people, but cancel often because they are overbooked, overwhelmed or try to please too many people. Sometimes they are going through something and don’t want their friends to see them as anything other than happy and in control. That it’s not intentional but that they would rather flake out last minute than say no to someone.
So what is your take? Do I have a point or should I chill out?