Sunday, January 23, 2011

Adventures in Real Parenting: The Birthday Party


Micro Version: On Friday we finally had Sophie's twice postponed birthday party. If I ever mention that we're doing an overnight party that isn't Adults Only (safe words optional), please stop me. Whatever it takes, stop me.

Short Version: On Friday we had Sophie's twice postponed birthday party. The girls were every bit twelve years old. One minute they were laughing and goofing around like kids. The next minute they were verbally cutting up someone who wasn't there.

Girls deal in whispers, careful glances over their shoulders, common bonds of insecurity and false confidence, loud bursts of laughter, increasing decibels to be heard, shrill calls to hold my place, I'm next to tell my story, Has anyone seen my phone?

Who's in, who's left? Sometimes labels fit. The Queen Bee, Her Second(s), Miss Bossy, The Observer, Troubled, The Fringe, The Independent, The Bookworm, The Freakshow.

I was outnumbered. Eleven to one. I don't recommend it. And for party planning purposes of this nature, don't try to blend girls from different social avenues unless you have a very tight timeframe. Two hours or less. And planned activities. If I ever host an event like this again, it will end by 10p.m. Six hours is plenty long for the arc of the party to climb, peak and descend. If you've shooed them from your home by ten, you may finish before tears flow. Yours or theirs. Does it matter? Perhaps the party should end at 8:30 just to be safe.

Other things I learned:
1. Precocious and quirky becomes annoying and weird in the span of two hours. Please, parents, encourage individuality, but balance it with some social skills. I'm not talking socially awkward (I see that in the mirror every day). I'm talking about the kid who touches everything in the kitchen, thinks every word she says is funny and clever and believes being a picky eater makes her interesting. It does not.
2. There is never enough soda to satisfy kids.
3. When one kid accidentally drops her cake and ice cream on the floor, someone else is likely to do the same while laughing at the first kid.
4. Whatever you say about black people, gay people, and/or hoping that the President of the United States won't live to see a second term in office will be repeated by your children.
5. No matter how hard one tries to ensure that upon departing, everyone has accounted for everything they brought with them, the host or hostess will still find a pair of some kid's balled up socks stuffed between the sofa cushions a day or two after the party.

The long version:  Is written. And ripening. And might never see the light of day. But holy cats, did it feel good to write it.

34 comments:

  1. I am suffering vicariously. Seriously. I think I'll go curl up in the fetal position under the covers for at least an hour now and I didn't even LET that happen in my house this year!

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  2. I still think the best question is, "Who in their right mind wants children?" And if you say yes and have them ... then it's too late with no way out.

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  3. Whatever you say about black people, gay people, and/or hoping that the President of the United won't live to see a second term in office will be repeated by your children.

    Truer words were never spoken!

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  4. I can't wait to read the long version.

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  5. I'm so glad you survived it. I hope no one was permanently scarred and that any seances/light as a feather, stiff as a board/bloody Mary incidences passed without making your house haunted. (Do kids in Georgia scare each other by playing those games at slumber parties?) We always played those or the one where you lift up your friend's arms so it feels as though she is falling when you lower them.

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  6. Excellent post. You summed up girls perfectly. I hope Sophie loved the party.

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  7. Sounds like the perfect sleep-over/birthday party! I'm so glad to know that you survived it.

    My hope for you is that today consists of a bubble bath, a nice bottle of wine AND a fantastic foot-rub from Mathman...Oh, oh! AND no interruptions from the peanut gallery! (wink, wink! nudge, nudge!)

    :)

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  8. Hey! There was no "calling of the authorities', or ambulances involved, so I'd say it was a success.

    My kids' famous BD party snafu was we put trick/relighting candles on his cake & he was blowing so hard to try to put the candles out, he wound up spitting all over the cake!

    Well, let's just say that is one way to get more cake for yourself!

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  9. This was hilarious. I remember being that age and having a bunch of girls over for a sleepover. Drove my entire family crazy. Hmm, I wonder why everyone seemed happier when I went to someone else's house for a sleepover?

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  10. It sounds to me as though it's just as well the sleepover appears to have been pre-empted. I'm happy you survived.

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  11. sounds like quite the experience!! our children are our mirrors..

    and 12 year old girls definitely have a way of showing the ugly side of ourselves..

    good luck... they sound like a handful

    happy blogging
    - SY

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  12. we're living parallel lives five years apart (we're like that movie where sandra and keanu send letters to each other and you can't quite understand why they don't just go meet up already!)

    i had six seven-year-old girls at my house last night for our b-day party sleepover that had been postponed the weekend before. your run-down on roles is spot-on even at seven. i tried with all my motherly might to enforce "togetherness" w/out, you know, enforcing it, but damned if the lord-of-the-flies social casting hasn't already begun.

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  13. I was one of three adults supervising/whatever my niece's 13th bday party with 17 other girls last week. It went well. They tend not to talk about other girls--surprising, no--but lots of fashion talk. And there never is enough soda. I wonder how they can eat all that sugar and still want more. I'm pretty sure I had limits (self-imposed) when I was their age. Glad you survived.

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  14. The "repeated by your children" story has been discussed at our dinner table. My kids get it - but still can't quite believe it happened. What prejudices have we fostered here in our house, I wonder? They only show up against another backdrop, I guess.

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  15. Oh goodness me - THANK HEAVENS my girls are grown up. Sort of - because it's all over in a flash. But still - really glad I don't have to entertain those little ra...

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  16. You got my PTSD all stirred up.

    One little friend would paw through our cupboards and drawers. Very weird. Another ate paper because she had anorexia at age 6. And most 12 year old girls still haven't discovered that real hygiene involves showers and not more layers of PINK cologne.

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  17. I've got one planned for April. Been stressing over it since November.

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  18. Oh boy or should I say oh girl. You nailed the description -- prepubescent girls - scary creatures when roaming in packs.

    P.S. Why do they call them sleep overs? No one gets any sleep...

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  19. Been there, done that, baby! You gave us a perfect microcosm of this awful/wonderful time. Thanks (um, well, or maybe not ;) )
    B
    The Middle Ages

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  20. ewww...that sounds horrifying...and it also sounds a little like my life as a 9th grade teacher. I would rather deal with
    14-year old boys any day than girls. Boys fight and call each other gay and horse around, but girls are just downright evil.

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  21. I'm so glad you survived it! And for the first time I am rejoicing that we live in a shoebox. We have a 6 person max rule in the basement

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  22. Lisa, just reading this stresses me out. I remember those days of pre-teen girls, one minute giggling, the next talking about sex and trying to sneak out of my house.

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  23. This is more terrifying than any horror novel or movie I have ever seen.

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  24. A-frickin'-men. I have two girls and we're heading into this zone.

    You pegged it perfectly.

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  25. Ah, those were the days. I miss them!

    But I'm glad you're on the other side of the party and can relish in completion of The Long Version.

    Congratulations!

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  26. Sounds a bit like a typical day at my office.

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  27. Boys are easier . . .but they smell worse.

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  28. I'm cringing. I'm also evil. Since moving back to the States I've found that sometimes those get togethers just don't jive with my schedule. Other times I'm wide open. A few moms and I have managed to cultivate a good group. But know it won't last.

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  29. I do remember those parties and I do not miss those days one bit. It always made my skin crawl to hear the things those girls talked about.

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  30. Hilarious. And that picky eater thing? I'm with you. One of my son's friends won't eat ANYTHING I put down. Apparently his diet consists of macaroni and cheese and nothing else. This is SO not charming.

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  31. I had the (dubious) honour of helping my daughter manage the four-year-old birthday party of my grandson on Sunday.

    It reinforced a basic fact of life I learned years ago:

    Litte boys are savages. Little girls are bitches.

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And then you say....

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