On Making The Birthday Suit

Keeping up with our kids’ expectations can be tough. Just when you think you have it sorted they go and change the band, show or toys they like and leaving you holding the Teletubbies backpack like an idiot.

Which is the actual image my mind conjured up when I dropped Miss15 to her friend’s sixteenth birthday bash the other day.

Rather than an introduction I got a peck on the cheek and Miss15 disappeared through the front door of their house in a sudden, if quick, burst of deafening music.

I turned to the three adults standing on the driveway. One, it turned out, was the birthday girl’s Dad, and the other two ladies who had similarly been abandoned to fend for themselves.

“Are you welcoming guests or hiding out here?” I quipped.

“I’m doing what I’m told,” he said. “After this, they’ll be in that half of the house,” he went on, indicating what were clearly the living areas, “and I’ve been told,” he was now pointing so far in the other direction we had to turn our heads, “I’ll be confined to that room.”

While a few bars of hearing aid precursor sucked an occasional girl through the front door to join all the others we had a lovely chat. I made the jokes. They laughed. It was very pleasant.

Finally my set was over and it was time to leave. To be honest I could have gone on but the music blasting out of the house every time a party guest arrived was messing with my punchlines.

Readying to bid them goodbye, I wondered aloud what the girls planned on doing all day. I wasn’t due back for several hours.

This, it turned out, wasn’t going to be a problem.

Although presumably if I stayed I’d be locked in a room at the back of the house too, I said how reluctant I now was to be leaving as he listed off the equipment he’d hired for the party: a pool table, karaoke machine and a helium gas bottle.

But instead of looking pleased with himself talking about all these wonderful fun things seemed to stress him out. Seems it had all been a bit last minute after his initial plans were unveiled and unceremoniously discarded in what I can only imagine was an explosion of indignant teenage horror.

“I thought I had it all sorted two weeks ago,” he went on sheepishly. “I’d made up playlists for pass the parcel and musical chairs and everything.”

For a sixteenth? What a ninky nonk.

“So she’s your oldest then,” I grinned, patting him on the shoulder. It wasn’t a question.

Thinking about this had me giggling all the way home until reality hit me right in the cold sweats: Miss15 turns sixteen in less than a fortnight.

I took a deep breath and reminded myself she’s the third oldest of my seven so I’ve been here before.

Time to break out the jumping castle, I guess.

She always used to love this thing at parties before we went away on our part Big Lap when she was in primary school. She’ll be thrilled!
She’ll be learning to drive soon. That can’t be right. She’s only been out of nappies, like, three years.

Raising a family on little more than laughs

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