Parenting, if you do it right, entails much more than the usual burping, feeding, potty-training, carpooling stuff. What you discover about a year into the ordeal is that when you have a child, you are obligated to provide official entertainment for it on a yearly basis. Now I'm not going to spend a lot of time talking about birthday parties in general - that's a subject for another day. What I want to focus on today is the very specific, thorny challenge of throwing a party for a pre-teenager. I say thorny because kids this age aren't exactly thrilled with anything Mom and Dad do, especially in full view of their friends, and no matter how hard you try, or how much money you spend, or how creative you try to be, the whole event is going to be met with one long, sustained eye-roll. Nevertheless, you are expected to do something, lest you be accused of being neglectful, so you might as well face the music. In our case, the music happened to be Hawaiian, spurred on by the fact that we'd just returned from a family vacation to Maui and had lots of souvenirs on hand. So we decided to throw a luau, complete with barbequed ribs, pineapple spears and tacky tiki lamps.
You are, of course, free to borrow our idea. Just be sure to remember the age and social mindset of your audience, and adjust your behavior accordingly. And for those of you who are unsure about the proper protocol for such an occasion, I've prepared a quick little quiz. I hope you'll find it helpful.
When hosting a luau for your daughter’s twelfth birthday, you should:
A. remain completely out of sight in the back part of the house, thereby providing her friends with the illusion that she lives there alone, unhampered by annoying parents
B. circulate only when necessary to serve the meal (preferably in total silence, without making eye contact)
C. be a constant and visible presence from start to finish, engaging her guests with such witty remarks as "I’ll bet after this party you're all going to be poi crazy! Get it? POI crazy?” and performing your own hula rendition of "Aloha Oe”, wearing a grass skirt and a plastic lei.
I sincerely hope you all went with option C (especially if you're a dad with exceptional chest and back hair.) After all, you may never have a better opportunity than this to totally humiliate your child, and when you get right down to it, isn't that what parenting is really all about?