Our boy Jack is turning 14 on Sunday. We don’t have a big do planned for him — he invited three or four friends for a sleepover tomorrow night but only one or two have confirmed that they’re coming. One is sick, and another says he just doesn’t feel like it. He asked another friend but the response was that he was going snowboarding. I guess I should have just told him we could do a day with a friend at Mont Kanasuta, but we’ve typically had trouble with his birthday at this time of year. When he was younger and we wanted to give him big parties at the pool, bowling alley, or what-have-you, often he would lose guests to hockey practices. And it’s often too cold in this region at this point of the winter to go sledding at night. We’ve had to be creative with trying different things, done the sleepover a couple of times — it’s easier now that he’s got an X-Box, too.
Jack said to me the other day that he feels like girls are more likely to have big parties. I don’t know how true that is, or whether kids continue having big parties as they get older, except for the milestones. My childhood birthdays tended to be small, with a handful of guests, particularly if we were moving to a new town at the time. We gave him a big Winnie-the-Pooh party when he turned 3 — it was really more therapeutic for me, having lost a pregnancy a few months earlier — and a Wizard party the next year, for which I recruited high schoolers to help as volunteers. Was it last year that we did laser tag? Most of the time, we also try to avoid having parties in the house when possible because we just don’t have the space, but given that it’s only once a year, sometimes it’s worth the noise and the mess and the crowding and the cleaning.
I do wish, right now, that I could afford a party planner or that I had thought ahead to at least get a quote. After two weeks of exams and exam marking and report cards and new classes, the time and energy I’d believed would be available have slipped away like the heat from my coffee if I leave it in the car. Add to that the stress of grandparents coming tomorrow, neither myself nor Hubby feeling quite well from lack of sleep, and the pressure of the next project I said I’d do, and it’s an unholy knot forming between my shoulders. Plus I wasn’t able to get his birthday wish (beanbag chair).
But solutions are forming. I’ve decided that anything that doesn’t directly belong in the living room is going to be stuck in a basket and put upstairs in a relatively out-of-the-way place. If he only has one or two friends coming, that makes picking up loot bag stuff easy! I’ve already picked up party refreshments — Sunny-D and three kinds of chips — and they can always walk to the corner store to pick out candy. I also have a back-up gift I can get him, in lieu of the chair: he really wants a fancy Turtle Beach headset for gaming. I told him he would earn it by completing keyboarding exercises but we can switch it up to something else he’d like to have. His sister also needs to pick something out for her big brother, so I’ll have to bring her out with me to choose a gift. (sigh) And here I had anticipated taking care of all of this during the after-Christmas sales. Oh, well.
One thing I’m finding, though, is that having a child of my own about to enter high school and at the same age / maturity level of some of my current students is making it easier for me to have patience with my grade 9s. There is a benefit to being the mother of a teenager while teaching teenagers! And soon, he’ll be choosing his courses for next year.
Meanwhile, his slightly-jealous, highly ambitious little sister has been planning her own next birthday party, 10 months from now, almost since the night after her 9th birthday passed. (additional sigh)
Another positive point: since the kids have their skiing tomorrow afternoon, that’s one way to help keep the house clean (if and when I get this stuff done). Oh, no . . . if I also go skiing, I’m bound to crash for a couple of hours right when in-laws are descending and kids are coming. I may have to forgo my weekly hour on the slopes! Nooooo!!!