Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Partying With Mom Is No Day At The Beach

Mom turns 60 at the end of this month, and all she wants is a pony.

she said, several ponies. And a clown. Oooh, and a bounce house, and a
guy who makes balloon animal hats. Maybe a magician, too. 

"I'm going to be 60, but I want to have a party like I'm going to be 6," she told me.

seized on the idea immediately – how adorable! We can have a Barbie
cake and a face-painter. Everyone can get little goodie bags filled
with candy and bubbles. Maybe we'll hire a guy to dress in an Elmo suit
and dance around. It will be perfect! It will be hysterical! It will …
never happen. 

Israelis have one party. It doesn't matter if the
occasion is a bris, a birthday or a bar mitzvah – if my mom's friends
are gathering in celebration of something there will always be obscene
amounts of food, a full bar, live music and, occasionally, a mime (your
guess is as good as mine).

Hubby and I had to hire three bands
to perform at our wedding in order to accommodate our tastes and Mom's
intractable image of a proper party. 

So, I should have known
that no matter how different a party Mom said she wanted, in the end
we'd wind up with lamb skewers and a lady with an accordion.

I held out hope that Mom was going to let us go off script for her
celebration. The whole thing set my imagination afire: Maybe we could
have it at Chuck E. Cheese or American Girl Place! Or maybe make it a
princess party and have Cinderella show up! What about hosting the
whole thing at Disneyland? 

"No," Mom said. "I want it at the beach."

A beach party! OK. We can have a big beach Twister game, maybe get a snow cone machine and a piƱata.   

No. No. And no.

by one, all my ideas were shot down until this party started to
resemble every other party Mom's group has ever thrown and attended –
just with a better view of surfers. 

Her crowd wouldn't go for
face-painting, Mom said. They don't have any use for the Wiggles, and
princesses "just aren't me" (evidence was mounting to the contrary, but
I bit my tongue). Instead, Mom had a list of decoration and food
requests that were more Tutto Mare than "Sesame Street": Grand
Marnier-soaked asparagus spears? Having trouble finding that in a

Mom did commit enough to the little-girl theme to go
with teddy bear invites, but only after a strange exchange in which she
violently rejected my idea of sending out Malibu Barbie invitations. 

"No!" She said, throwing her fist down. "I don't want Barbies! I hate Barbies."

collects Barbies. But that's not the point. The point is, she had
accepted my offer to plan her "little girl party" but hated every one
of my ideas. That's fine. It's her party. But after being shot down at
every turn – the food, the music, the entertainment, the location – I
was at wit's end when the invitations became an issue. 

I know
that Mom gets a little stressed out before a big event. Her temper can
flare. She can get a wee bit bossy (one of my favorite wedding pictures
is a close-up of my Mom's arm, outstretched and ending in a tautly
pointed finger). In the end, I know her control-freakishness will pay
off with a fun party, something she'll embrace and remember. But right
now, it's driving me nuts.

"I don't want Barbies! That's not me!" 

I looked at my soon-to-be 60-year-old mom, my mom who told me that all
she wanted for her party were pony rides and a little-girl theme, and
found myself thinking: "I wish she'd just grow up!"

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