June 18, 2005

The things (insane) parents do for their children

Yesterday was the last day of school here in Prince William County, and I had agreed to chaparone a party for my daughter Rachael. We rented a pavillion at a local park, bought lots of food to feed dozens of newly-liberated teenagers, and I had agreed to chaparone a party for my daughter Rachael.

Most of the parents I met as they dropped off sons and daughters called me a brave man (translation: fool) because I had agreed to chaparone a party for my daughter Rachael.

But really, it wasn't that bad. In fact, the party was a huge success.

Mookie and I got to the park a little after 1pm, and kids started showing up around 2pm. All told, there were 45 people there and most stayed until almost 8pm when I called it over (the park closes at sunset). Unfortunately, two of her best friends couldn't make it because one had to work and the other moved earlier this week about 3 hours south. On the other hand, two other good friends made the trip up from downstate with boyfriends in tow.

I cooked burgers and hot dogs for 4 hours, and at the end of the day, only one uneaten dog got thrown away. We did run out of ice and drinks though, but still had plenty of cups for water.

Rachael had declared this a masquerade/costume party and had made masks for a couple of her friends. I was pleasantly surprised and pleased at how many of the kids showed up in costume and masked.

I was also struck by how diverse her circle of friends is. The youngest there was a freshman boy who swears Mookie helped him pass Construction class this year. The oldest was a girl who graduated the year Rachael was a freshman. A lot of these kids she knows from drama and theater, so they're an outgoing group. They hug a lot. Their standard parting is "I love you". They're mentally unstable, but polite. I got lots of thank you's for cooking and chaparoning.

Forty three minutes after the start of the party, I heard the first mention of water balloons.

Shortly after that, the first one was thrown. At that point, I made the only rule I needed all day: No water in the pavillion. There were too many cell phones and cameras laying around on the picnic tables. All water fights stayed outside the covered area after that. One great thing about the park is that it's a cell phone dead zone. It's almost impossible to get a signal, so the phones don't ring and there weren't a dozen teens constantly on their phones.

Back to the water fights. Another group of friends showed up with super soakers, and soon enough it devolved into cups of water, 2-liter soda bottles filled at the faucet and a few cleverly hoarded balloons. I fully expected the kids to just start dragging victims into the bathrooms one at a time for drowning in the toilets. Lots of very very wet teenagers running around.

And of course, the entire time they're in ever-changing little groups playing on the playground equipment, kicking around a hacky sack and soccer ball, and plotting the next liquid ambush.

Finally, most everyone drifted over to the soccer field where the athletically inclined played an actual game, and the rest of the kids all made up intentionally obnoxious and politically correct "positive reinforcement" cheers and planned an actual halftime show. Drama kids. They're all showoffs.

And then it was getting late. Everyone helped pick up around the area, including bits of exploded balloon, and parents were called for pickup (the few kids with working cell phones shared theirs out). Many more hugs and "I love you's" were exchanged along with lots of "great idea, Rachael!" comments.

And Mookie was positively glowing, which made it all so worth it to me.

Posted by Ted at June 18, 2005 07:45 AM
Category: Boring Stories

You're a model dad. Happy Father's Day, Ted!

Posted by: dawn at June 18, 2005 10:49 AM

"mentally unstable, but polite."

THAT is good enough to be a subheader.

Posted by: Derek at June 18, 2005 11:32 AM

Glad all of that went well for y'all,Ted.Just being able to single handedly pull it off with any success is a minor miracle in itself.Also,glad to hear that your daughter has freinds in such a wide age band.Very much the way we were when we where growing up.

Posted by: Russ at June 18, 2005 01:48 PM

Oh and I hope Mookie had a happy birthday,too.

Posted by: Russ at June 18, 2005 01:52 PM

Dang. I knew I wanted to get invited to that party. :)

I'm glad everything went well!

Posted by: Victor at June 18, 2005 04:46 PM

Sounds like a great party.
You made great memories for your daughter. That is one of the best gifts you can give your kids.

Posted by: Rachel Ann at June 19, 2005 02:55 AM

Good job. Did you transcribe any of the cheers? They sound very funny. Happy Father's Day (belated).

Posted by: John Lanius at June 21, 2005 01:02 AM
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