I didn't realise (nobody told me) that hosting a party for twelve years olds is just not the same as doing parties for younger children.
The kids are different - they're "Cooler" (as in: "Don't be too enthusiastic in case someone thinks you actually want to be here"; "Don't look an adult in the eye or do anything more than grunt when they greet you, they might expect you to talk to them.")
Dash, bless him, did try to warn me, kind of.
He said months ago, before I was knee deep in mockingjays and district symbols, "Mum, kids my age don't really have theme parties; maybe I could just have a few friends over..."
Did I listen? NO, course not.
I replied, "Son, nobody your age has theme parties because their parents don't know how to do them like we do. Trust me, your friends will love it!"
|[The Birthday Boy helped me make the cardboard cornucopia]|
"NO mum! PLEASE don't dress up as Effie Trinkett! It would be so embarrassing!"
"What??? But I'm going to be Effie and I'm going to make Dad be Caesar Flickerman... it will be funny!"
"Noooooo mum! Seriously, I'd be so embarrassed!"
I put the pink wig back in the drawer, sadly. No Effie Trinkett. No Caesar Flickerman. We are dealing with Tweens, who are highly sensitive to embarrassment. I didn't know - but I do now.
I put in loads of work on this party - partly because I LOVE Hunger Games and was having a blast coming up with the ideas, and partly because I really wanted my (easily embarrassed) son to have the BEST BIRTHDAY EVER. Of course.
But it turns out that I needn't have bothered, really.
Not that his friends didn't like it, they did. Apparently. From the txts I got from parents later.
Just at the time, you'd never know it.
Then yesterday one of Dash' friends was over and he said to me, "Simone, that was the best party EVER on Saturday!" and my heart lept.
THIS is why I do the parties, make a fuss creating the atmosphere, spend weeks on creating all the details...
So what did this boy love so much about the party...? I couldn't wait to hear. Was it the hand stamped district bands? The Capitol Water Bottles? The stencilled Mockingjay victor's bags...?
"The water fight! It was AWESOME! We got to just throw water at each other and go crazy... it was THE BEST!"
The water fight. Not the party Mellark Bakery signs, or the stencilled Mockingjays or the cardboard cornucopia... just the chance to throw water at each other.
Ha. there you go Simone, let that be a lesson to ya!
I have a twelve year old son. His friends are tweens of various stripes.
Some we know, some we don't know at all.
Some we have a great relationship with and have known before they were "cool" (THOSE are the ones who would have enjoyed Effie and Caesar making an appearance).
Others we've only recently met, some just on the day (the ones who wouldn't look us in the eye, who acted like they didn't want to appear like they were having too much fun).
I learnt a lot from this birthday, and I now know that after a certain point, everything changes.
We're at that point now.
Dash has probably had his LAST theme party. Waaaaaaah :(
He doesn't WANT theme parties any more.
He said months ago (and I quote), "Mum I think I'm getting too old for theme parties..."
And I said, "But Dash! Theme parties are what I DO! It's what I'm good at! Just think of all the cool themes we can do now you're older... Survivor, Amazing Race, Fear Factor..."
What I was really thinking was "Don't cut off my source of blog material! Don't tell me it's over!"
This weekend we pulled off a party that (on the surface of it) was cool in every detail but somehow just lacked the .... heart. The buzzy feeling of celebrating with your son's besties on his special day in a way that is super fun. The kind of party that leaves you with a warm fuzzy feeling.
That's what parties are for.
Somehow, whether it was that the numbers were too big (12?!), that a number of the usual long-time friends couldn't make it and there were a bunch of kids we didn't know, or whether the few "too cool" kids that walked in looking unimpressed loomed too large in my mind... I don't know.
(Though they don't look unenthusiastic in this IG selfie and the birthday boy called it an "unforgettable day")
I just know that I won't be doing that again. Not on that scale. Not for that many. Not for this age group.
Next year, just a couple of besties. No party. Just a celebration.
And guess what? My twelve year old is super happy with that plan.
I'm half sad and half relieved.
Bottom line, I have a twelve year old son and everything's different. He's seriously growing up.
Happy 12th birthday Dash.
YOU ARE AWESOME.
DISCLAIMER: The Hunger Games Party Posts will follow soon... because even if it wasn't my favourite-feeling party, it was still AWESOME. And I did work my butt off. And Dash called it an Unforgettable Day.