We are those foolish parents who agreed to host a ‘gathering’ last weekend, for Kurt’s nineteenth birthday. He requested a party, but I naively thought that if I defined it as a ‘gathering’, his guests would not interpret the event as the opportunity to get shit-faced at someone else’s expense, throw food and chuck up in someone else’s clean bathroom – that they would play Battleships, knit and face paint together.
Tensions were further increased because NC had to study for an exam the next day and so needed her sleep. Anyone who reads this blog and knows anything about our daughter, knows that you don’t mess with NC’s sleep even six months before an exam.
Kurt learned this again on Saturday.
There are basic rules about older teenagers, that I imagine will never change over the course of history, the main ones being that in the presence of their peers they become more selfish, territorial, much louder than they think they are and when alcohol hits their system they fit into four categories of party animal – the ‘all-nighter’, the ‘sleeper’, the ‘aggressor’ and the ‘puker’.
Which is why the best piece of advice I can give you about parties for 18-21 year-olds at home, is don’t be a fucking moron.
But, if like me, after each annual ‘why did I agree to it’ party disappointment, your child zaps you with some taser that erases all long-term memory, (rather like midwives do), and you forget about the police, the carpet stains and that couple you found shagging in your bedroom …, or you assume stupidly that every extra year is an added year of maturity, remember the 5 golden rules every parent needs to adhere to, so that there are no casualties – and by that I obviously mean ‘parent’ casualties.
The guest list – Agree on the numbers and stick to them even when your teenager continues to barter over them in the hours leading up to the party, then make sure you check those numbers in and out.
Timing – It doesn’t matter what time the invite says the ‘gathering’ will start, those selfish motherfuckers will turn up at least two hours later, so bear this in mind for your timings. Kurt’s event was supposed to be ‘pres’ – turns out they all went out for pres before his ‘pres’, leaving me with Mr Anxious who was convinced no-one would come, and cold food. Kick them out at the agreed party’s over time, whatever time they choose to arrive.
(Forget all your best mummy intentions about supplying food so they don’t drink on an empty stomach. Stop kidding yourself – the sole intention of their evening is to get shit-faced, so they’ll either not eat it, use it as weaponry or discover the hilarity in feeding the dog until she pukes).
Be The Boss. Don’t Be Their Friend – Like dogs, teenagers sense weakness. They are also fundamentally ‘stupid’ creatures, especially under the influence of …anything. I try not to believe they are inherently malicious or set out with the intention of disappointing, but under the influence of alcohol and the pressure of peers, the synapses in their developing brains break down completely and any respect or intention to impress their mates parents goes straight out of the window. Do not give off a ‘whiff’ of friendship towards your guests. They need to know where they stand during this minor skirmish, and it’s not on your side. This is your house and you are to be respected.
This advice will come in particularly handy when you barge into your child’s room at 3.30am, with the level of authority anyone in a stained towelling dressing gown and no make-up can muster, to find at least ten illegal teenagers have been secreted in there and you have to kick them out.
Enforce boundaries, such as no smoking in the house, you clear up your own puke etc, but avoid ‘rules’ with serious consequences – enforcing them on a hungover birthday boy means you’ll only end up disappointed and feeling mean.
Invest in carpet cleaner, plastic glasses, Valium, extra rugs and remember to hide the dog. Make sure that the First Aid kit has something in it.