Last month, Mouse turned 13. I had a frustrating experience planning her birthday party with friends.
We wanted to go to a cabin in Vermont – one that my family has been going to for years upon years – just like we did for Lemon’s 13th birthday. Mouse had been quite excited for the trip.
But Mouse and her friends, they have sports to play. Bat Mitzvahs to attend. And scheduling became, shall we say, difficult.
It became apparent that an entire weekend was not going to happen. Not with the crucial attendees.
So we had to revise the plan. Flexibility is key, when parenting teenagers. Nothing is more important than being flexible. Head still attached to the neck? NOT IMPORTANT.
Which is good, because the whole birthday-party planning thing did, in fact, cause my head to pop off in frustration. Frustration with kids, with kids’ parents, with myself, with my parents, with my kids, with my spouse, with the state of Massachusetts – with everything.
The revised plan is taking place this weekend. On Sunday. We are going to an amusement park. A big, famous amusement park with roller coasters and a water park, and lots of sticky pavement and nausea-inducing rides.
But hey – wait! Let’s not get all the way to the Big Day without throwing in a little more frustration? — to wit:
When we made the plan, we had 4 girls on the invite list. This weekend/trip/birthday folly was always going to be enough of an outing that it was small numbers. I would have preferred to have 3 girls on the list, but the dynamics of the group are such that it cannot be done. So when one of them had a big sports tournament or other thing that couldn’t be avoided, it seemed perfect to me. 4 girls. A nice, even number.
Oops, Mom! Wait!
“I was walking to school with Friend 5, and I kind of forgot that we weren’t inviting her this year, and started talking about my plans and stuff, and since Friend 4 can’t come, can Friend 5 become Friend 4? Please? I really want her to come, and now if I don’t invite her, it will be awkward.”
I run through the issues in my head. I think about group dynamics. I think about seats in the car. I think group dynamics will be improved by the addition of friend 5-now-4, and I realize that regardless of whether or not she is added to the list, our car isn’t going to fit the crew – so I’ll have to work out transportation in some fashion.
So I approved the switcheroo.
About 2 weeks ago, Mouse says, “Um, Mom? Didn’t you say Original Friend 4 can’t come because of sports?” ”Yep, sure did.” ”Well, today she said she can’t wait to go – and I was confused, so I just played along.”
Original Friend 4′s mom is a friend of mine. [And no, I can't just use first initials. They all have very similar names.] So I called her. ”No, I really think that sports are devouring our entire life and she has about 15,000 games that weekend.”
I talk to another of the moms from the List. ”Hey, want a hybrid for the day? So I can shove 7 bodies into your mini van and not pay a rental car company or zipcar to take the kids to the $50/head amusement park?” She happily agrees. Perfect! 5 girls, WD and me, fitting into a 7 passenger van.
A week later. ”Mom, Friend 4 keeps talking about my party. I am confused.”
I again call mom of Friend 4. ”Now it looks like there are 20,000 games that weekend. I really don’t know why she thinks she’s going.”
This past weekend, “MOM!! She said something AGAIN!!”
Last night, I sent the reminder email with a list of things that the kids need to bring: “They need bathing suits, but can’t wear JUST bathing suits, because if we’re not in the water park, shirts are required. They should have flip flops for the water park, but need other shoes for roller coasters, or else they’ll lose their flip flops and drop them on someone’s head. Please don’t forget sunscreen. Or towels.”
I sent it to all 5 girls. Meaning the girl who couldn’t come and the girl who was invited to replace the girl who couldn’t come.
Guess how many moms wrote back to say their kids cannot wait and are soveryexcitedohmygodthisisthebest!? 5. Plus Mouse makes 6. Plus me makes 7. Plus WD makes 8.
So I’m in talks with another friend, because her van holds 8. She thinks it will be fine to swap cars. Probably. She just has to talk to her husband. Who is out of town. He may be gone for a few days. And maybe they’re going away for the weekend. Not really sure. But it should be fine.
I think I’ll go reserve a zipcar now …
First, I’d like to just say:
I’ve come a long way from the days of throwing phones into walls because of a lack of grocery money. But I’ve rounded the corner from that into the days of saving for college tuition. My financial planner has us saving quite aggressively for this. At the same time, my kids keep coming up with new camps & stuff that they want to attend this summer. Result? I’m freaking broke – all summer long.
So the extra ticket to the amusement park – groan. But knowing that the kids are so very excited about the FAIR part of the park? You know, the part where you shell out crazy amounts of cash so they can throw balls into holes and then make ME lug giant stuffed animals all over the place? I’m not thrilled. Not at all.
The finances of the whole day are actually freaking me out.
But I know it will be fine.