“Hey Dad, can I invite my entire 8th grade class over for a party?”
You wouldn’t think so much fear could be instilled with such a simple question, but parents who are willing to risk hosting social events know the resultant anxiety! Dozens of short people roaming unsupervised through your house, messing with things, tracking dirt on the carpet, spilling food and who knows what else. Should I warn the neighbors or check with the local police department to ensure they know to contact me if there are any 911 calls?
Heck, what if, like Gulliver in Lilliput, I end up pinned and tied to the ground, forced to watch while the children reprogram our remotes, pull things out of the kitchen pantry and deliberately mix dirty dishes in with the clean?
Still, as a parent it’s my job to have a stiff upper lip (proverbially, at least), bear the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, find my inner strength and offer to yes, let her host a Halloween party for 20+ eighth graders at our home. And may God have mercy on our souls.
The good news is that while it’s easy for me to imagine a cross between Animal House and Project X, the fact is that her entire class are nice children, kind, polite and not overly tainted by the horrors of young adolescence. 13’s a tough age, as any teen parent can attest, and I can’t plead ignorance: K- is my third teen, so I’ve been here before. Been There. Done That. Got the T-Shirt. Yikes.
Friday night doesn’t work well for school parties because children are typically tired after a day of school and parents can get rather recalcitrant about late night activities. Saturday would have been perfect, but we had another commitment. Another weekend? Seriously, it’s a Halloween Party so it had to be the weekend of the 28/29 October. Sunday it was. A bit odd to make it a school night, but with her typical zeal and enthusiasm, K- planned a party from 3pm-9pm. And that was after I argued that making it too long just meant there’d be confusion about when people showed up and left as parents wouldn’t want them with us all day.
K- and her BFF M-, along with my older daughter Ashley spent much of Sunday afternoon cooking up all sorts of cute party foods — props to Pinterest for having so ridiculously many great ideas, like the brownie graves in the photo! — and decorating the house with orange Halloween light strands and fun disco lights. By 3:15pm, rather to my surprise, there were a dozen kids in the house. Afternoon wa all about being outside playing basketball and forming up a huge volleyball setting circle, but eventually it all migrated indoors and quickly coalesced into two groups in our two main sitting areas.
First, though, ever her father’s daughter, K- pulled out a fun party game that the first 8-9 of them enjoyed: Apples to Apples. Kind of like Cards Against Humanity, but … FOR humanity instead. 🙂 And way, way, way more child friendly! The big hit of the evening, however, was Just Dance on our ancient Nintendo Wii: pairs and foursomes were dancing to pop songs for hours, accompanied by much cheering and laughter. Good fun!
Dinner was the typically unglamorous but painless pizzas delivered from Pizza Hut: three large pizzas + breadsticks for $35 delivered. Hard to beat that, and they vanished like dust pulled into a vacuum.
The party ended smoothly with only the tiniest of ruffled feathers (teen girls, almost impossible to avoid completely) and was roundly deemed a success. No damage to the house, no muddy footprints, no broken windows or parents tied to chairs and tortured a la A Clockwork Orange. Phew.
I know, I know, where does this guy come up with these weird images? Just remember, it’s Halloween so I’ve been getting more than my usual dose of horror films this month. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.
Meanwhile, I am a very hands-off chaperone so I hung out upstairs with Ashley and we set up a mobile TV viewing station: A 15″ laptop and a pair of very nice audioengine speakers so we could watch the Netflix series Stranger Things, which was fantastic. I kept peeking downstairs to see what was going on, and using the convenient excuse of needing water, tea, or even a napkin to be downstairs and assess how things were going.
At one point our cat sat on my windowsill, a bit confused by what was going on, and hit the setting sun just right. Here’s what was projected on the ceiling:
It couldn’t have been a creepier – and more Halloween appropriate – shadow if we’d tried!
All in all, the party was a grand success!