My newly 13 year old son had a birthday party on Friday night at our house – loosely termed a “house party” with a vaguely animal theme. Why do I always end up agreeing to these things? As I get older and less enthusiastic (don’t forget I’ve been there, done that, with my older two) these parties weigh heavily on my mind for days if not weeks prior to the event. Especially when living in London and there is so much to worry about. Will they try to sneak in alcohol or drugs? Will the music be too loud and the police be called? Will they trash my house? (that’s a given), vomit somewhere inappropriate? What if they snog?? The thought of having a house full of uncouth children when it had been pissing with rain all day was about as much as I could bear. It basically was going to amount (in addition to the above) to a ruined lawn, mud all over the house, mess everywhere and a late, noisy night. I had clearly been listening to too many horror stories – mainly from my older two children. “Mum, you need to be careful, don’t forget it is your responsibility and if they get drunk and pass out do you know what to do?”. “Are you sure you’re not going to get a flash mob?”, “you need to hire some bouncers and check all the names off at the door”, “You should check all their bags as they come in” which promptly put my youngest child into such a depression at the thought that he didn’t even want to have the party anymore.
“Listen” I told him, “don’t worry, I won’t embarrass you like that – there has to be an element of trust here – I know a lot of your friends are already 14 but alcohol is illegal and I don’t want any of your friends trying to sneak it in OK? Otherwise I will have to call their parents immediately”.
One of my friends gave me some worrying advanced advice:-
Give them loads of stodgy food – hot dogs, pizzas, crisps
Buy small bottles of water to hand out towards the end of the evening when they are a little worse for wear
Make sure you wander around checking them for alcohol
Turn the lights on 15 minutes before the end
Make sure you have buckets strategically placed for them to be sick into …..
You can see why I was dreading it can’t you. Although, I have to say that it was this very same friend who advised me years ago to encourage my children to bring their friends back to the house. Forewarned is forearmed and all that. Yes, you have to deal with all the mess, but you know where they are and you get to know their friends. Although my son spent a lot of time trying to suggest that I stayed in my room or at least as out of sight as humanely possible I told him that he had to get used to it – “I will be around a bit and eventually your friends won’t mind that much”. I did promise to be discreet, which I failed to do when the dancing started because I wanted to join in – which I shouldn’t really have done – but the girls don’t mind…(that much).
Sometimes, the “dreading it” approach to life is a good thing, because it means that you are never disappointed. In fact, in this case I was so wrong that the entire evening proved to be an absolute delight. My brother very kindly offered to come and support me and help me be bouncer – he was amazed at how mature and charming the thirty or so teenagers were. They all turned up in animal costumes looking gorgeous – especially the girls – all in little tails and ears and stripey tights (bumble bees). This age is possibly the worst for the stark difference between the girls and the boys – some of the girls could actually pass for 17 whereas there were a few boys who still only came up to their hip bones. If you are a boy, it must be a very scary time.
The hiring of a slush puppie machine was a brilliant idea (his idea, I just paid) – they all loved it:-
after they all left, there were a few pairs of ears and tails left dotted about. I took my first selfie:-
So, I have about 30 spare bottles of water if anyone is interested – I didn’t have to hand them out after all!