This year Morgan and I are having a "disagreement" over her party preparations, and I am not sure if this is the pre-teen rearing its ugly head or the case of the spoiled child who all of a sudden realizes that growing up means changes she may not be ready for. When the kids were little we always went all out to make their day special; we would have a party, invite family over and make them their choice of a birthday meal. We always said at some point we would tone it down, shorten the guest list and make the party side of it more low key. For Morgan, this time has come and she's not having any of it.
I shouldn't paint the picture that she is being ungrateful and mouthy about it, thats not fair and not Morgan at all. That would almost be better, in a way. Instead she is sullen, has lost interest in planning her party and dragging her heals about telling me who she wants to invite, what food she wants and what they may want to do. When we first started talking about her party, she began naming off all these grand ideas: a boy/girl outdoor snow party, a Rock Band Party (also boy/girl, of course), a day a the spa for her and her girlfriends, etc, etc. I immediately nipped that in the bud and told her it would be a sleepover - with no more than 5 girls - a movie, some pizza and a cake. More than I had when I was 12, I tell you that! But this is a girl who has never had a restriction on her guests, has always had her choice of venue and has enjoyed many long talked about parties in her day. She even had a kick-ass Halloween party with 10 girls overnight right after arriving here. Now I see I have done her a disservice.
There were tears when I broke the news to her, and talk about not wanting to get older. I believe I even heard the words, " its not fair." Of course I gave her the lecture about being 6 years older than her little sister (who just had a big party), reminded her of her 6th birthday party when she had 14 little girls over for a tea party, complete with princess costumes - when I had a 3 week old baby no less. I talked about how there are both pros and cons about getting older and didn't she enjoy the perks of being the oldest with her very own laptop, her cell phone, her later bedtime and the babysitting money she makes?? All very good points, which of course she conceded to in the end. So how come I didn't feel any better when she dried her tears and walked away with her head hanging down?
I know in my heart its time to tone it down in the birthday party department. I know if I keep up this pace it will get away on me very quickly and we will never be able to pull it back. I know that I just don't have it in me to pull off a gigantic party right now, after the busy holidays while Daddy is away, my mother - who is not used to a house full of preteens - is here and I am beginning a serious job hunt. This time of year money is tight, time is short and nerves are frayed. But none of those things are her fault and I hope I am not simply making her suffer for it all.
Over all, I don't feel like our kids are spoiled. They know there are people worse off than us, but there are many that are better off. They understand that we both have to work to pay for the house we live in and the cars we drive, they know money doesn't grow on trees and that with three of them they can't possibly participate in every activity out there, so they choose one. But then I look around the house we live in and see the multitude of electronics, the 5 tv's versus the 1 we grew up with, the piles of toys, the 4 computers, the inground pool...and I wonder if we're setting them up for believing life is easier than it really is. We always want our kids to have a better life than we grew up with, but our lives were pretty great growing up so have we taken that too far?
For now I feel like we're doing the right thing in cutting down her party, its not like we told her she couldn't have one at all. Something tells me, however, that when it comes to teenage tears and disappointing the kids...this is only the beginning.