Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sweetest 16

Oh. My. Goodness.

I never thought a birthday party could involve more moving parts than planning the invasion of a small country. And when one thing doesn't go according to plan, it takes the active intervention of an angel to make these things happen.

Earbaby's birthday celebration was the Sweet 16 to end all Sweet 16s. And yes an angel did intervene, and the party went off very well. Very-well dressed teenagers in either black or white, or both, were well-fed, well-danced and well-exhausted. For any parent whose teenager slept past noon after EB's party, sorry. And you're welcome.

When all was said and done, EB's grand coronation for the act of turning another year older -- apparently the first person in the world to have accomplished such a feat -- was pretty darn good. Of course she spent the last six months, haranguing, begging, nagging and then obsessing about it, with the previous month leading up to it sending her anxiety levels off the chart. February was a long, cruel month.

Beginning with T minus 27 on February 1, our region endured three massive blizzards for the first three weeks, mostly on weekends. When all was said and done, 95 inches of snow had fallen, the snow days are now at eight, although the school year has only budgeted for five, there was noticeable slippage of the final grades with the new term starting somewhere in the midst of the snowy mess, and everyone was snow weary and in what appeared to be permanent bad moods.

So the last thing I really needed to talk about was the dress she bought but didn't want the wear, the tiara she insisted on buying and then refused to wear because it didn't match her shoes, the rehearsal space paid for so her dance team could practice their dance they would be performing for the party, the constant reworking of the guest list as people slipped off, then back on, then off again. And most of EB's worries she relayed to me every night by text when I was at work, usually on deadline. This was her most pressing concern, having the perfect party that no one could complain about.

As for me, I had been beside myself for the better part of the month every time she turned into Teenzilla. I had taken to advising people with daughters that if their daughter didn't want a Sweet 16, don't offer one. Just shut up. You'll thank me later. Every facet of this party was a battle. She wanted false eyelashes (!) and pouted for hours because I told her no. She was consumed with people who asked to come, but she didn't know well enough to invite. She worried that too many people would come. She worried that no one would come. We all worried about another blizzard like the ones that paralyzed the city and shut down the public transportation system.

By the time the day came, we had figured out how to get the hot food to stay hot, when everything would be delivered and set up, I had an hour by hour schedule for food, balloon, cake pickup, and had even managed to score free parking less than half a block away. I was ready to pull off the perfect party.

Of course, we all know what happens with the best laid plans. Things started going south after she had to redo a manicure that didn't last, but that was just a small financial glitch. The biggest glitch came when her hair appointment started almost three hours late. That changed everything. By the time we got back home, I had to scramble to get to the venue to set up without the promised help of EB and her friends, who all had to get ready.

If not for the angel, a friend's mother who dropped off her daughter early and stayed to help set up tables, chairs, linens, center pieces for the tables, food, drink and then, slipped off without leaving so much as a silver bullet (I did however get a chance to thank her, unlike the people saved by the Lone Ranger), I never would have pulled it off. It really is true about God putting people in the right places for you.

Anyway, EB, who was by this time was absolutely insane because she had been getting cancellations all day long from people who suddenly had something come up, was sure this would be a disaster. I tried to tell her, if you invited more than 100, even if only 50 showed, that's a decent-sized party. She had upwards of 75. I also told her at the end of the day, she would know who her real friends were. And she did. They were the ones dancing with her, applauding her, taking hundreds of pictures, and singing Happy Birthday to her (even adding the Stevie Wonder version) in a five-hour party.

The one good thing about this wonderful (and horrible) experience is that I won't ever have do this again. The one bad thing is that I won't get to do this again. I've figured out all the bumps in the road and could do such a better job. A tiny bit less food and a tiny bit more drinks, especially water. Get the first hair appointment of the day, or go the night before. Secure parking early and then you can put maps and directions so more people can't claim they have no way of getting there. And above all let the guest of honor know that once the party starts, don't stress and have a good time. Even the day after, EB was worried people didn't really have a good time, they just said they did and would complain about it later at school on Monday. Her next big lesson will be to just let it go. All the right people came and had a good time.

Earbaby, you're 16 now. Happy Birthday. You are very much loved.

But please, elope.

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