Twenty rambunctious teens. One of you. Now what?
Did you promise your teenager a party? Did you get through in one piece?
Last year I promised my son he could have a major bash. He’d been doing great in school, had just returned from an overseas academic program, and he wanted to party. All night, and through the weekend. Call me crazy, but I agreed.
But there would be more rules than usual. Because this wasn’t just about being responsible for him, it was about responsibility for the other teenagers here. This was also his opportunity to show me how mature he could be in taking ownership of the planning, as well as his behavior and his friends’ behavior.
Parenting tips for teenage parties: what I did right:
- He and his friends were responsible for decorating (a great job).
- The party was outside – under a small addition and deck.
- We set a reasonable limit – about 25 kids (half of whom I knew).
- I sprung for sodas, chips, salsa (staying within budget).
- Sleeping here was required for anyone too tired to drive home.
- I’d leave them alone, but I’d be watching (discreetly).
- I’d also intervene any time I thought it necessary.
- At 1 a.m., music volume down, down, down!
Parenting tips for teenage parties: our challenges:
- Neither my son nor I (naively) realized there would be crashers.
- Turns out, one of his friends set up a Facebook group announcing the party!
- Word-of-mouth is exponentially more “viral” through the use of social media.
- Tell your kids – no FACEBOOK Group invites, no Tweets during the party, inviting other kids! (Admittedly, hard to enforce.)
- I tried enlisting another adult to help. No go. I should’ve tried harder.
- I was outnumbered, and that was exhausting. It was a long weekend, but I gave my word and kept it. My son kept his as well.
- If you think there won’t be shenanigans of some sort, you’re wrong.
- Remember what it was like to be 16, 17, 18? Nothing’s changed.
- Don’t be shocked; be prepared.
- Figure out beforehand how you’ll handle “transgressions.”
- I forewarned my son how I’d intervene if things went a certain way (that helped keep things in check).
A little luck, a lot of talk
We’ve been lucky, so far. But I’ve got gray hair from that party, and the smaller all-nighters that have taken place since.
Even now (it’s 1 a.m.), I can hear the Friday night gathering, outside, not far from my window. Eight kids have narrowed down to five; two of them are mine.
I should tell them to keep it down or call it a night. But I hear flute, mandolin, guitar… and laughter. Call me crazy, but it’s all music to my ears.
© D A Wolf