We are having a birthday party here this afternoon. Not just any kind of party! An uber-cool Beach Party!! For Bekah and sixteen friends. A thirteenth birthday party. Seventeen thirteen-year-olds. Yee-haw. But Bekah is exultant. Sixteen people are coming to her Beach Party! It will be So. Cool!!!!!!
We wake to a forecast of thunderstorms. Thunderstorms!
Hope battles Despair!
An almost thirteen-year-old tackles the forces of nature through sheer force of desperate will.
"The radio says 60% chance, mummy. That's 40% chance of not thunderstorms! Can we go? We can go, right!"
Mum is at the computer, checking in. "The Weather Network says 75%, sweetie."
"But it's sunny now!"
The skies darken ominously. The phone rings. "Are you guys getting hail where you are?" The voice of one of the invitees' mother chirrups. "I'm on the 21st floor here, and we're really being battered!"
The skies open. Water falls in sheets.
Ten minutes later, the sun breaks through. Steam rises from the streets.
"Can we go, mummy? Can we go? It's sunny again!"
The clear blue hole in the sky is about 50 meters in diameter, but for the moment, it is indeed sunny. The forces of nature and the forces of adolescent will wrangle for another ten minutes before Daniel comes downstairs.
"Did you guys hear? Environment Canada has issued a severe thunderstorm watch for our area."
Hope is Defeated! Despair Overcomes!
Bekah wilts in resignation. The forces of nature have won. She takes to the phone and bravely makes all sixteen calls. The party will be at our home. She puts the phone down after the last call. Social-chirpy vanishes under the wash of despair.
"We wanted a beach party, mummy! I'm going to have a CRAP party! CRAP!"
Momma speaks words of encouragement and comfort. The guests begin to arrive. The kids are unsettled, it is true. They had their hormone-ridden hearts set on a beach party, complete with bikinis. Thankfully, Daniel sticks around. Nothing perks up a roomful of thirteen-year-old girls like the presence of a seventeen-year-old boy.
Bekah, however, is still fraught with Hostess Anxiety. At each lull in the proceedings, she races into the kitchen. "Mummmm! They're bored! They want to go home! My party is CRAP!" More words of encouragement from mum.
"You're the hostess, sweetie. The momentum has to come from you. Out you go."
"Away you go." But she's right, you know. They have a wave of enthusiasm, the volume rises, then the energy ebbs away.
It is my practice to stay in the background at these things, but clearly something has to be done. I enter the fray, issue a few friendly but non-contestable directives, and get a game going. All the signs of Successful Early Teen Party are there, the prime one being outrageous noise. The game ends. The party pauses. The shrieking subsides.
What's with these kids? Why can't they get any momentum happening? Sheesh. This is my youngest child. I've done a tonne of parties. Never have I had to work the room like this!
Despair gets a Smack-Down!
Zoe, my eldest, walks in. Bekah races to greet her, drags her off to the kitchen. Two minutes later, Bekah returns, turns on the music, gets out the Twister game, and finally, finally, the party takes off. They shriek, they giggle, they scream. Twenty minutes later they decide they are going to the park, and off they go shrieking down the street. (The park is a couple of blocks away. If it rains again, they can be home in minutes.)
An hour later, they return. Bekah and one of the boys have gone into the river. Much shrieking over whose fault that was, each party laying the blame firmly at the feet of the other.
They have pizza, they shriek, they have cake, they shriek, they read Seventeen magazine, they shriek, they open gifts, they shriek, they put nail polish on everyone, including the boys. Much shriekage.
By the ringing in my ears, I gauge this a successful party.
How the Smack-down of Despair and the Return of Jubilation?
After the last guest leaves, I pull Zoe aside. "So what did you say to Bekah, out there in the kitchen?"
"Oh, she was going on about how her party was CRAP, and I said, 'You know why? Because all your guests are out there, and you're in the kitchen, whining.' "
HA! THIS is why you have more than one kid, I tell you.
If I'd said that, she'd have melted into a pool of misery right there on the kitchen floor. Right there, right then. Send the guests home, mother, you've slain the hostess.
But big sisters, they can say this stuff. Moreover, they can say this stuff, and the little sisters, they take it right on the chin, and get out there, and make a great party.
Thank God for big sisters!