Birthdays at our house are a big deal, and we have always pulled out all the stops. But when my son was turning thirteen, he approached me with a dilemma.
Our parties have become sort of infamous in town. Kids start asking Noah what he is going to do for his birthday months in advance, and start jockeying for invites. Their moms on the other hand, really dislike me, but I don't mind. I live to see that grin on my boy's face when I know that once again, we have pulled off something epic. Why do the moms hate me, do you ask? Because we have raised the bar so high, they get in trouble with their kids when they want to have a birthday party at McDonald's. We have had Pirate parties with real treasure hunts where you have to dig something up. We have done Army dude parties where the main event was shooting stuff. We have bonfires and let the kids stay up all night long. I will lay out the plans for my other kid parties another day, which brings me back to Noah's dilemma. He came to me all concerned because he didn't want to hurt my feelings, but he had kids asking what he was going to do for his party, and he was afraid I was cooking up something...babyish. Being thirteen is all about being embarrassed by your mother apparently. He said, Mom, don't get me wrong, I appreciate everything you have done in the past, but I really will die if we play pin the tail on anything.
So I had to get thinking about the mind of the teenage boy. What would they like? Food, yes. Candy, yes. And fun that makes them feel slightly grown up with out being stuffy, boring or too grown up. The other thing I wanted to avoid is giving in to the tendency among lots of parents to treat junior high kids like they are small adults, ready for things like horror movies and co-ed parties.
So I came up with the idea of an Asian Party. When I first floated my ideas to Noah, he was skeptical. But it turned out to be one of the most fun parties we have ever had. I didn't do much in the way of decorating, other than a black tablecloth and red balloons, because teenage boys don't even see stuff like that, so I could save money for food. We ordered a ton of Chinese take out. I also made up an entire case of Ramen noodles. Let's face it, Ramen is fun, I don't care how old you are. I also made endless trays of eggrolls all night long. For a really special treat, we also brought home some sushi from the specialty grocery store in town.
I got some Pocky and put it in a blue and white vase.
I handed out chopsticks to all. The guys had a great time eating Ramen with chopsticks, and Noah, who has always been a foodie, was jazzed with the sushi. While I got this all together, the boys waged a supersoaker war in our backyard- we have a huge treehouse, and a couple of acres with woods, so this took several hours to render everyone soaked and muddy. They were so glad to come in, towel off, put their pj's on, and shovel their faces with take-out. When they were done, we had a movie marathon which included every Godzilla title I could rent from the video store, The Karate Kid 1,2,and 3, which most of them had not ever seen, Bruce Lee, and this weird movie called "The man with the Secret Kung-Fu" that I found for a buck at Wal-mart.
It turned out to be so bad it was good. I was surprised that most of the kids had never seen the classic Godzilla films, and they had fun making fun of them. I made tons of popcorn, and handed everyone a take-out box full of Jelly Bellies. We also opened and read fortune cookies. By far though, the best part of the night was Bobbing for Ho Hos.
To play, you fill a large bowl with milk, float a couple of boxes of Ho Hos in it, and let them bob for them. Yeah, this was the talk of the head-shaking moms this year. I think if you follow the rule of thumb that you do what the kids would like, and not what adults would like, you are going to have a home run every time.
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