My daughter will be sixteen in less than two weeks.
Let’s pause for a moment of silence.
We have talked about the big day on and off for weeks, but with the date looming over our heads now – it is decision time. For me, this decision process brings up memories of not-so-great birthdays in the past and how she has triumphed over some very dark times.
So what made the short list for her big day? Here’s her party planning ideas (all options would occur under parent supervision because we are THOSE parents):
- Go to San Francisco with friends –This day would involve hitting Pier 39, an art museum, shopping in Union Square and dinner. (SF is about 45 minutes from our house.)
- Go to SF and see a band – good possibility with this one, but she’s having trouble finding a show that would be awesome AND allows 16 year olds to attend. Oh, the burden of youth.
- Catered party at home with all friends – this is different than the “party at home with all friends” she has had the last couple of years in that the food would come from a restaurant rather than our local pizza place.
- Movie night – we might possibly be mildly addicted to Amazon Instant Video.
As I mentioned above, the last couple of years have been about having big parties at home. This was born out of many years of not having friends at all. She was the target of playground bullies – girls that called her names and made a “rule” that anyone who played with Lizzi was a freak. (Yes, I spoke with her teachers during this time. They told me those girls were not mean, cruel monsters because they drew the happy pictures currently taped to the teacher’s desk. That is a rant for another post.) In 3rd-5th grade, I think she was invited to a total of 2 birthday parties and maybe had 3 after school play dates. In middle school, the loneliness took a turn to the dark side that involved depression and self harm.
It was a very difficult time for all of us.
Birthdays in this period were stressful for her because she couldn’t think of anyone to invite to her party. Of course, there was an option to not have one at all – but that was even more depressing.
We sought help, and found a number of resources that made a huge difference in her life. I will write about those another time, but just know that we have come out the other side stronger than I could have imagined.
In those dark days, I wondered if there would ever be light in her life again.
But here we are, planning a Sweet Sixteen. She has so many friends now that the thought of inviting them all over for a “blow out” party seems like it might be too much noise and mess. She is leaning toward a fun day with friends that mean the most.
Whatever she decides, her dad and I will be there to celebrate this milestone and savor the smile on her face.
This post was originally published on WorkingMother.com on November 28, 2011.