There have been moments -- actually, strings of moments that lasted weeks sometimes -- over the last year during which I had doubts I would ever truly feel like a parent again. Parenting a teen is nothing like parenting a school-age child. And parenting a teen who was raised by someone who doesn't always share your value system is like parenting a difference species. Not judging, mind you; it's just that different folks can approach the same things very differently.
This week was not like that. This week, I felt like a parent again.
Back at the beginning of the school year, Daisy Mae and I made a deal: if she could get through the entire first quarter without missing any assignments in school -- not a homework, not a quiz, nothing -- she could have a Halloween party. A real one with decorations and friends and music that was too loud and a bonfire.
Well, Saturday night she had her party. The house and the deck were decorated up, we built a bonfire of epic size in the front fire pit, I moved the stereo onto the screened porch (where, if I had my druthers, it would stay forever), and we cooked up enough food for a small army.
About 15 kids showed up. It was big enough to be fun for everyone and small enough to be controllable for a first party. The kids were great. They danced. They sang Top40 dreck. They played on the swings and hung out around the fire. They threw candy at each other. Nothing was broken; the mess was nothing extraordinary, and outside of some minor irritation due to the preponderant habit of teens to open a can of pop, drink 2 ounces and then abandon the can, I couldn't complain about anything for the evening.
It was fun. And I was really proud of Daisy. She made sure everyone felt welcome, and introduced everyone around. She hugged everyone hello and goodbye. She mingled.
Twice, she came inside and thanked me for helping her throw the party. And she meant it.
It's good to see your kids succeed. It's even better to encourage and see them earn a genuine reward. I'm looking forward to doing this again sometime.