When Jonathan, my stepson, started middle school, my husband and I decided to throw a Halloween party. (Actually, I think I decided to do it after reading an article in Parents magazine. Like many events I plan, my husband just latches the safety belt and hangs on for the ride.)
I had all kinds of high hopes about this party. I made tons of food: kid friendly appetizers like popcorn chicken and mozzarella sticks, plus lots of candy, platters of cheese and crackers, cookies, brownies, the whole show. I think I was more excited than Jonathan was. I expected the parents would want to stay, so I got a few bottles of wine and a case of beer — not because we’re drinkers, but so we could offer them to other parents, with that whole hushed, “Would you like a glass of wine while the kids are quiet?” My husband even got into it, and we set up three rooms for the kids: one room had a strobe light, and we set up Rock Band on the television. The next room had the Wii set up on the big screen TV. We set up stereo speakers hooked up to my iPod, which had a trendy music selection (if I say so myself). No one wore costumes, because that’s just not cool in middle school.
So here’s what I expected: The parents would be charmed by my social skills, the kids would get along fantastically, and I could make all kinds of new friends.
What really happened? The parents couldn’t get out of there fast enough. I think there might still be tire tracks in the road. Apparently when your kids hit 12, you’re ready for a free night.
But I’m a good sport, and I threw myself into making sure the kids had a great time. They did. I caught two kids (a boy and a girl) sneaking out of the house because they needed to take an *ahem* walk, but that was easily stopped. At the end of the party, one little girl, all bright eyed, came up to me and said, “Thank you so much. Ohmigod. This was my first real party.”
Since the party was such a hit, we had another one last year, when Jonathan was starting seventh grade. I had more realistic expectations, so I went easy on the hot apps, but we were decked out and prepared to have a good time.
Except that Saturday, I woke up with a fever. A high one. 103. I choked down Advil like it was candy, and that let me get the house set up. I was ready to go. The kids would play video games and listen to music, and I could suffer in the corner of the kitchen and make sure no one snuck out or tried to kill each other. I could do it. I could survive.
The party was set to start at 6:30.
At 6:25, the power went out.
No, I’m not kidding. So I had a house full of screaming, hormone ridden 13 year olds, and we had no power. Think about that: we had no lights. No games. No music. No microwave to warm food. We had pizza scheduled for 7:30, but that was an hour away. We figured the power wouldn’t be out too long, so we started telling ghost stories. Mike went in the back yard and rapped on the side of the house and put a spooky Halloween decoration up against the windows. They played hide-and-seek in the dark. We broke out my toddler’s box of Play-Doh, and built clay creatures. I opened my laptop and played songs on iTunes and they sung along at the top of their lungs.
Through it all, I wanted to die. My fever was raging. I was pretty sure I had swine flu, too, so every 30 seconds, I was scrubbing my hands with Purell, sure I was infecting all these children.
The party was slated to end at 10pm. You want to know when the power came back on? 9:30.
This year, Jonathan is in eighth grade, and we just told him he could have another Halloween party. He’s extremely excited. This morning, while I was driving him to get his hair cut, he said, “I’m already getting texts from people asking if I’m going to have another Halloween party this year.”
I gave him a high five and said, “Yeah, Jonathan! You’re the awesome kid.”
He said, “Remember last year, when the power went out?”
I said, “How could I forget?”
He said, “That was like the best party ever.”