Some things across the generations don’t really change. All teenagers LOVE a good party with their friends and all teenagers HATE their parents ringing up to ensure that everything is above-board before they allow them permission to attend.
Unfortunately for my boys (man-child and teen-child), I grew up with pretty strict (and to be fair very astute and sensible) parents, who always rang up in advance of said party to chat with the parents and ensure there was appropriate supervision, etc. I seem to recall I didn’t like it, but over time I guess I learned to endure it, probably until I was 16 or 17 years old. Typically parties were via printed invite only – we didn’t have the internet or mobiles back then, and if you heard about a party via word of mouth it was chatting with friends face to face or even god forbid using a landline (ask a teenager what a “landline” is – many have no idea).
These days the invitations are still mostly printed (designed on the home computer) and either emailed out or hand delivered. Although in some instances invitations are issued via Facebook – a little too uncontrolled for my liking. That seems akin to sending a group text message to everyone on your phone. You are asking for trouble.
Every time there is a party for the Man-Child (and trust me has one at least every fortnight, boys and girls, from varying schools, 70-100 people) we go through the usual ritual. From me: Whose party is it? Can I see the invite? Please provide the parents name and number so I can call them. And the response from Man-Child: OMG. Do you have to? Why can’t you just let me go? No-one elses mum rings up. etc etc.
To this date I have not once said he can’t attend a party – but I still get the same response every time. That said, I have said no to some “gatherings”. For those who don’t understand the difference, as much as I can determine, a gathering is a small informal party (up to 20 or 30 people), whilst a party is more formal and has between 70-100 attendees. Now I have no problem per se with “gatherings”, but on the occasions Man-Child has been told he can’t attend it’s because we are either moderating his social life to ensure he has some down time, or because it’s a last-minute invitation that I always think is a little inappropriate. I mean how is it he can receive an invite to a gathering 2-3 hours before it starts? Surely the parents haven’t said on a whim that little Johnny or Suzy can have a gathering tonight – and they decide that at 4pm on a Saturday afternoon? Do the kids just continue to churn out invites via Facebook until they have filled their quota?
And you can imagine the response from Man-Child when he gets a “no” can’t you? M-C: What do you mean NO! Everyone else is going. This is so unfair. You have to let me go. OMG. What is wrong with you? Why can’t I go? Well I’m going anyway. (Insert SFX of stomping feet, swearing, banging doors etc).
Now I am not alone in doing my own form of party “policing”. I have spoken to many of my friends who all do the same thing, so I’m not sure how many of Man-Child’s friends actually don’t? I am always silently chuffed when I do call the parents and they assure me that they too would call as I am. And they happily share details and reassure me that everything is in order. Only once to date have alarm bells rang for me – the parent clearly had NO idea how to manage a party, didn’t know the number of people her child was inviting, had no controlled RSVP list, and the party was supposed to finish one hour before the stated time on the invitation. Considering the guidelines that all the schools issue these days I have to say I was gob-smacked at their ignorance or laissez-faire attitude (actually I think it was more the former).
Anyway, there will continue to be parties, and gatherings, and I will continue to call the parents and ask my usual questions for the next couple of years. Hopefully Man-Child will get used to the idea, although I am a little doubtful. Incidentally, teen-child doesn’t seem to have the same issue – maybe it’s a peer thing, or maybe they’re just different kids?