Growing up, us kids had 'friend' birthdays every other year, which meant we had two years to plan and look forward to it and although they were never fancy, it was always a very big deal for us. I was turning 12, it was a 'friend' year and I was so excited.
I had a sleep over and invited 8 girls--seeing as how we had 8 kids in my family at that time I think my parents were pretty generous. It had been hard to choose 8--there was lots of "Will Molly come if I don't invite Shannon?" and "will Heather feel out of place if Kim isn't there?" and "Will Kim get mad if Molly's there?" and "Do I invite Sara?" Sara was a big issue. She thought I was a dork (I'm not saying I wasn't)--everyone knew she thought I was a dork--but she'd recently moved in up the street from me which put her in the 'ward' category although she didn't come very often and I had invited all the other girls in my 'ward' age group--but they were my friends. And Sara really wasn't. But she was 'popular' and friends with some of the other girls there, and I was inviting all the other girls in my ward age group. Do I invite her too, even though she thinks I'm a total lameo dork?
I didn't invite her.
But about 1/2 an hour into the party, one of the girls called Sara and told her that we were all at the party, then she handed the phone to me so that Sara could wish me a happy birthday. She said she hoped I had a nice party. MAN. So I stammered through how lame my mom was and I could only invite eight people. She was very good (i.e. manipulative) about it and said it sounded like we were having a really good time. I felt horrible. She sounded like she really wanted to come and I loved the idea that she wanted to be at MY party. So, with 8 kids in our family and 8 additional 12 year old girls, I went and begged (i.e. manipulated) my mom to let Sara come. Mom gave in; Sara came; it was all downhill from there.
See, I wasn't the only person at my party that Sara thought was a dork--and the party quickly separated into 'Cool' and 'Dork' groups. Sara thought the games I planned were dumb, which meant the people in her group thought they were too. Sara thought the movie we watched (The Incredible Shrinking Woman) was stupid, which meant her group thought so too. Of course, she never said it like that, she just said things like "Are we seriously doing a pinata?" and "I've seen this like ten times, did you record it off the TV?" THEN, we all go to sleep in the TV room, shoved into every available corner. Someone (probably Sara but I can't remember, which means it could very well have been me) says we should tell scary stories, so we do. And hour later two girls are crying because they are sleeping next to the window and if that guy with the hook decides to break in, they're going to get killed first. No one will trade places with them. Sara and her group start whispering to each other and I know they are saying how dumb my party is. I leave the room, trying not to cry, desperate for solutions to this nightmare. I go in and tell my parents that I don't know what to do. My dad tells me I'm being a jerk and to just get my butt back in there and finish the damn party (he's not so good with emotional drama). Eventually, that's what I do. I go back in the room, turn my back to everyone and clench my eyes closed in hopes I will sleep and everyone else will to.
Eventually, we do sleep. I don't remember what happened in the morning except that after everyone leaves I go to my room and cry for an hour, certain that this social flop will ruin my life.
It didn't--in fact I don't remember any kind of follow-up other than I decided I never wanted to have another birthday party again. And I didn't. In later years I would go to a movie with friends, or we'd go to someone else's house, but I never had another invitation, cake, friends-to-my house party. It wasn't worth the risk. Sara and I eventually became sorta friends, though she was always way cooler and I was always way dorkier.
I told this story to Lou-lou last week as she was stressing about who to invite to her party, who not to invite, what to do at the party, what would be fun. I told her not to get her hopes up too high, that after you turned 10 girls were different, parties were different, and that having a schedule probably wasn't a really great idea. She's a very fun, creative, and high energy girl and felt sure that we could come up with stuff that would make her party amazing. We came up with some really fun ideas and I was hopeful.
And then the girls showed up.
They all knew each other except one, who is a year younger than Lou-lou but a good friend. Lou-lou tried hard to make sure this girl had a good time, which meant her other friends kind of grouped together. No one was mean, but every girl there had a cell phone, and through each part of the party they were texting or calling someone. At 8:30, Lou-lou came to me complaining about the phones. I went to collect them, saying I would keep them in the kitchen (like when you take all the drunk people's keys). They all insisted their mother would be calling them and so they had to keep their phones with them (can you say rehearsed?). They didn't want to watch the movie, they didn't like the cake, they kept texting. At 10:30 Lou-lou came to me saying she wished she hadn't had a sleep over and they were making her crazy cause they didn't seem to want to do anything she had planned. I did not tell her she was a jerk and she should get back to her damn party, I said "I'm sorry, is there anything I can do to help?" There wasn't because the girls still insisted their mothers were going to call them. At 11:00 I said goodnight. At 2:00 Lou-lou told everyone they needed to go to bed. They said they wanted to watch the movie now.
At 8:00 the first one had to leave for a dance practice--they all woke up. I made breakfast, they ate, another one left, they played a game that one girl said was dumb, they went outside and collected eggs (I think they actually liked that part) they wandered the yard and jumped on the trampoline. At 11:00 the last one went home and Lou-lou came in to tell me she was done with parties--I was right, it didn't work after you turned ten.
I hate to say I told her so, but, well, I told her so.