Maggie turned 13 last Friday. The only person who missed her party was Norman Rockwell.
Maggie turned 13 last Friday.
The only person who missed her party was Norman Rockwell.
The festivities started at Diamond Bowl on the Independence Square. Never mind the torrential downpour outside; the bowling alley was on fire with appetizers, soda and fun.
After an hour of tenpins, the evening’s festivities moved to the Beem house. A dozen wet teenagers scurried into the family room as the rainstorm roared on.
Kate and I were glad to be back in the familiar surroundings of our warm, dry home. Little did we know the evening would be anything but typical.
A half hour after we arrived, the first stranger appeared in the kitchen. A gypsy vaguely resembling my nephew, John Hennessy, drifted through the room.
Next an illustrated man with tattoo sleeves strolled by. I could have sworn he was the identical twin of Joe, our 14-year-old.
Briana Savidge, Maggie’s friend-turned-flower child, followed. Her braids belied her.
There also was Dash from “The Incredibles,” who vaguely resembled Maggie. And the Mullet Man, who bore the likeness of Sam Wimberley, my nephew. Beneath her uniform, the able-bodied nurse resembled my niece, Maureen Hennessy, and the sorceress was the spitting image of my niece, Abby Wimberley.
Thus the spontaneous costume parade unfolded. Kate and I years earlier had decided to keep old Halloween costumes in a tub in the family room for just such an occasion. Little did we know they’d become props for Maggie’s 13th birthday party.
Our camera’s memory card was nearly full when the masquerade parade finally subsided. It was a truly memorable hour – our own personal Golden Globe Awards.
After their tough modeling duty, the kids needed a rest. They decided to break out the second round of junk food and crash in front of a movie in the family room.
It wasn’t Disney they watched. Instead, they selected and watched four – count them, four – hour-long Bryant Elementary School class program videos.
Who’d have guessed? Instead of choosing a popular movie, the kids opted for a walk down memory lane.
Maggie’s old-fashioned birthday party reminded me how important it is to invest in friendships and the give and take they require. It’s a form of personal philanthropy we engage in every day.
Our kids are blessed with strong groups of friends. You’ve learned about Maggie’s already. Tom’s band of buddies met in preschool and on early sports teams and now play basketball, soccer and baseball together and are in the same Cub Scout den. Joe’s built a strong cadre of friends through church, Scouts, school and sports.
It would be easier to tell Joe his garage band needs to find another family room in which to practice, thank you very much. Or to tell Tom the October backyard birthday campout he’s planning is over the top.
Somehow, though, Kate and I are both suckers who always say yes to our kids’ requests to have fun at our place with friends and family. As a result, there’s never a dull moment in our house.
Would it be easier if it weren’t so crazy? You bet.
Would we trade it for the quiet alternative? No way.
My father-in-law reflected recently on the similar state of their home during Kate’s childhood. “We may doze, but we never close,” he remembers saying during those years.