My eldest child turns 17 today--and before I get any further into this post, let's just pause for a moment so I can say: I don't know how that is even possible. I mean, sure, I've been here for all of those years, so it's not like this revelation came out of nowhere, or anything crazy like that. It might just be the fact that he's one year closer to being an official adult that's throwing me for a loop. But let's definitely not go there right now, or I'll reeeaally lose my train of thought. Okay, focus: Derek's birthday....so, how to commemorate another year in the life of a teenager?
Well, the celebration tradition for Team WestEnders usually involves several components--the honoree chooses what to have for dinner on the night of their actual birth-iversary; they also designate a spot for the clan to enjoy a lovely restaurant meal, (usually on a more convenient day, since one's birthday often falls during the work/school week...or perhaps on Easter, for example). And of course there are presents, and cupcakes, blah blah blah. (You'll notice that none of this involves copious amounts of advance planning...or superhuman effort....or wrangling large groups of guests. Yeah, there's a reason for that...we'll call it...ahem..."parental laziness". Whatever, it works for us...)
Which brings us to the aforementioned point--that for just the second time in his young life, Derek's birthday coincides exactly with Easter. We found out the hard way when he was younger that this means finding another time for that whole "eating out" thing, as most establishments are closed. And I was informed this year that, although my boys are (newly) 17 and 13, they still look forward to having a little egg hunt on Bunny (and Birthday) Morning. (Huh...who knew? I admit to being surprised by this--but Derek maintained this was mostly Riley's idea...and Riley cheerfully claimed full responsibility with a glib, "Hey, it's FUN!" Alrighty, then...)
I do suspect it was at least partially a clever ploy on their part, to make the entire day one big sugar fest...but I can also respect that. So on my free Friday, I ventured to Target on a candy quest. Now, this might sound straightforward...Step 1: fill basket with treats...aaaannnd DONE, right? But it's always a bit of a balancing act for me--normally, I'm programmed to avoid the junkiest of sweets, and to gravitate toward the better stuff...primarily, you know, the "dark chocolate" variety. Easter (and its cousin, Halloween) make it darn near impossible for a...cocoa snob...such as myself, however.
So in the end, I had to embrace the...less-than-healthy...and just go with it. I did find some adorable frog-shaped chocolates that I knew would make Riley very happy, and some bite-sized Ghirardelli dark chocolate (yay) caramel bunnies for both of them...and I even stooped so low as to buy them....Peeps. (Gasp! I know, "moment of weakness", what can I say?) In my defense, it was the goofy flavors that did convinced me: cherry limeade, which Riley looooves, and some sort of triple mocha nonsense for Derek. (I'm still not sure if I believe this is an example of brilliant marketing, or the perpetration of a horrifying candy abomination, but the boys actually gave the the thumbs-up when they tasted them, so that's really all that matter, right? Shudder...)
Oh, and as for that OTHER event that happened to occur on the same day? Let me tell ya, this birthday went off a wee bit differently than in previous years. First of all, Derek came to me Wednesday and checked to see if he could sleep over at a friend's house Thursday night, since they didn't have school on Friday. "Um...suuuurre?" I agreed. Then after returning home for a few hours on Friday, he asked permission to dine out with a group of his pals, and came back at his customary curfew time. At some point he also requested leave to attend a Durham Bulls game on Saturday night with some of the same buddies. By this time my response was to throw up my hands in mild exasperation, give him the okay, but also add, "Fine, but you're spending Sunday with your family, so don't even try to do anything else, understand?"
TO BE CONTINUED...