Monday, November 5, 2012


We threw a party last week. It was an early birthday/Halloween party for my daughter, the tween. My two daughters, ages 11 and 14, agreed to do all the planning, shopping, purchasing, inviting, cleaning, etc. They know I'm sick. They know I'm tired. Yes, I'm literally sick and tired, thanks to my newly diagnosed Lyme Disease. So I let them do it all. Yeah, right! In my dreams...

There was even a full moon for the "haunted trail!" Perfect!  

We always give them a budget. They get X amount for their birthday and they can do whatever they want with X. They can use it for a present, for food for the party, decorations for the party, etc. I feel it's a pretty fair deal. They usually opt for spending all of X on the party. This year was no Xception. Nearly the entire amount was spent online at Party City on decorations. They would buy the food themselves out of the money they made working at our food stand on the weekends.

Several days before the party, while I did my Wal-Mart shopping, they filled their own cart with food and met me at the checkout. Their budget was $60, the money they would make helping us at the food stand if they worked really hard that weekend. The grand total at the register? $137. I was nice and agreed to let them owe me. Truth be told, I was too tired to argue. That happens a lot. Anybody else out there with a horrible disease let their children take advantage of them inadvertently because you're too tired to fight about it? I didn't think I was the only one!

They promised to hand over their last weekend's pay, work really hard for us at the food stand all weekend, AND my oldest daughter even cooked up a bake sale idea to raise money at the flea market to pay us back. Fine. I'm down with that. Add another $37 for bake sale supplies and yet another Wal-Mart trip.

Fast-forward to reality. My oldest daughter cooked all night Saturday night for the bake sale on Sunday. I was so proud of her! They spent all day Sunday selling their wares and eating their wares. They ignored the food stand all day Sunday for the bake sale and made a whopping $33, not even enough to pay us back for supplies. Also, the pay they would have made on Sunday (which was to be put toward what they owed us) was practically nothing since they vacated the food stand and sat up at the main building at the flea market all day.

I reasoned that they were making oodles (my daughter had projected $117 from her venture) and they were out of our hair, so I let them stay at their post. At the end of the day, they managed to lose the money - all of it - plus the change I'd given them to use. It was the end of the season for the food stand and we'd decided not to continue with it next year, so we decided to cut our losses. Their lost money, however, was later recovered.

Seems that grandma (flea market owner and sitting mere feet away in her office, observing the bake sale all day) had made it a point to teach them a lesson by taking their money box when all FIVE children (my two kids, two friends, and a cousin) left it unattended. She did a convincing job of pretending to know nothing and an intense search for a mystery man with a food stand to-go box full of money became the afternoon delight of the children.

The party was on Monday. After working the food stand all weekend, I dragged my weary butt out of bed, prepared to clean my butt off on Monday for the party. Somehow, that hadn't gotten done by the children. What, really? Yeah, really (apply heavy sarcasm here). I entered the laundry room to look for something and there on the counter was all of the food for the party. A gajillion hot dogs and four frozen pizzas had been sitting on the counter in the laundry room with the s'mores and buns all weekend. The food was ruined. I'd have to make another trip to Hell-Mart Wal-Mart to replace the food - on my own dime.

My kids did this. They brought in all the groceries and were supposed to put them away. I wasn't supposed to have to do anything for this party, right? Ha! What I did in response to finding the expired food cannot be repeated, but it involved throwing packages of hot dogs and cursing, let's just leave it at that. Outbursts of rage are a symptom of Lyme, I swear to God. Look it up.

We had put an R.S.V.P. on the invitations and my daughter had handed out 30 of them to her friends at school. I happened to run into two parents who told me their children would attend, so I knew two people were coming, but besides that, I got no response whatsoever. Have people forgotten what an R.S.V.P. means? It means that you are supposed to call and tell me whether or not you're coming so I can know how many people will be here. Some family had agreed to attend, so I knew there would be at least two friends and some family, but there could have been anwhere between 10-40 people as far as I knew. I figured it would be closer to ten.

Twenty children showed up at my house that night. TWENTY! From 4:00 - 8:30 (several came home on the bus with my daughter), they came in droves, multiples crammed into minivans and SUV's. I thought I would die, but I did in fact live. The kids had a blast and I wore myself out.

I guess you only turn twelve once. In a mere six years, my party throwing days will be over, so I bucked up and weathered the storm. Those children whipped past me faster than 75 mph winds!

My daughter forgot to put that it was also a birthday party on her invitations (despite my example, which included that fact) and so she got no presents, but a good time was had by all. I ended the night by stating that, "We'll never do that again," but we love our kids and so.... I bet we will do it again... and again... and again. I'm still making them pay us back, though. I have a chart and everything.

How do you handle birthdays for your children? Little parties? Big? Do you plan it or do they?


  1. Now that my kids are 28+ and 26.98 (really, the younger one is 1 week short of 27!), I can't render an opinion that's current. But in the old days, we (the spousal unit I mean) planned the parties for two reasons.

    1 - if the kids had actually planned them, they would have been, well, different - sort of like what you experienced.
    2 - even if the kids had planned them, the spousal units control circuits wouldn't allow her to let go, so it would be done her way anyhow.

    Great learning experience for everybody though, wasn't it?

  2. We encourage independence with our children. Sometimes, it's awesome. Sometimes, like this time, it backfires and I pick up the pieces ;0) but it's all good. They will "plan" a simpler party next time. They could see that mama was a bit too stressed by this one! Some family and some chicken on the grill is fine by me... and one big party once in a while. Man, I couldn't do that every year, that's for sure!

  3. I think you're absolutely right to turn them loose to learn. I think you also provided enough behind the scenes support to keep things from totally imploding, but let them struggle a bit on their own too.
    Next one (in 3 or 4 years??) will go much smoother, I'm sure.

  4. Good for you in letting the kids plan their own party and budget, shopping etc. i would have been furious regarding the groceries. I liked Grandma's lesson too. Sounds like the kids learned something at least :)

  5. Becky Green AaronsonNovember 5, 2012 at 1:04 PM

    All I can say is that you are a brave woman!

  6. My daughter's only had family parties so far. I thought she'd do a kid party this year, but no one in her kindergarten class is doing them, so maybe not.

    Sorry the party was so much on you.

  7. Brave - or stupid. I'll accept either in this case ;0)