Teen Spirit turned 18 last week, but Smartmom and Hepcat couldn’t figure out how to celebrate the big milestone.
They suggested a birthday dinner at Daisy’s Diner, his favorite local restaurant, but Teen Spirit already had plans to party with his friends.
They suggested a birthday breakfast at Donuts Coffee Shop on Seventh Avenue, his favorite breakfast spot, but Teen Spirit had a gig with the Mighty Handful that day.
The birthday and the day after passed by, and Smartmom and Hepcat barely saw their son, who was now eligible to vote and serve in the military.
On Saturday night, Smartmom got an e-mail from one of Teen Spirit’s good friends. “Teen Spirit’s Surprise Party” was on the subject line. That got Smartmom’s attention.
“[Teen Spirit] requested that someone throw him a surprise party for his birthday and I said absolutely not. Naturally, this means that I am throwing one! I have an idea for a plan, but I have to run it by you first.”
Smartmom knew what was coming, but she was glad that her son’s friend was “running it by her first.”
“I am going to come over tomorrow in the late morning/noon and take him out of the house. Around 1:30, people will start showing up at the house. Then, at 2 pm, I will bring him back. Surprise! Then we will go to Prospect Park to have a picnic and play music for each other. Is this plan all right?”
Smartmom had a mixed reaction. Her heart was warmed because Teen Spirit told his friend that he wanted a surprise party. But then she wondered guiltily whether she and Hepcat should have planned one. But she knew deep down that he didn’t want his parents (gross, cooties) to throw him a surprise party.
Still, it surprised her that he wanted a surprise since he’d been playing his birthday down. Smartmom didn’t know that he cared.
Smartmom was also touched that his friend was going out of her way to give Teen Spirit his wish.
The only thing that made Smartmom nervous was that an unspecified number of kids were coming over to the tiny apartment.
Sure, Teen Spirit has a great group of friends. But the idea of 10 or 20 of them in her dining room was unnerving. What would they eat, what would they drink? Would they drink?
Smartmom got right back to the friend, telling her that she was on board with the surprise party, but needing more information — primarily, how many kids should she expect.
“Right now on Facebook, it says that 13 people are coming, but that’s just Facebook,” the friend wrote back. “It is safe to say somewhere between 13 and 20.”
Facebook? The invite was already on Facebook? And 13 people had already RSVP’d. Yikes. Now Smartmom was panicked. She immediately went out to Seventh Avenue to buy all of Teen Spirit’s favorite party foods: tortilla chips, spicy salsa and Mug Root Beer. Since he doesn’t like birthday cake, Smartmom bought two pounds of rainbow cookies at D’Vine Taste.
The next day, Smartmom had an early appointment and left Hepcat in charge.
“I’ll watch over this surprise party thing,” he told Smartmom bravely. The Oh So Feisty One was determined NOT to be home during Teen Spirit’s surprise party, and she scurried out of the house bright and early to be with friends.
Unfortunately, Smartmom wasn’t home at the moment of the surprise, but Hepcat said that Teen Spirit’s friend called from the street and the party of about 12 kids squeezed into Teen Spirit’s tiny bedroom with balloons and yelled, “Surprise!” when he came in.
When Smartmom got to the apartment, the kids were eating chips in the living room and packing up things like juice boxes (how retro) for their picnic in the park. Teen Spirit looked happy.
“This restored my faith in my friends,” Smartmom heard Teen Spirit say.
Smartmom was pleased. How lucky he is to have a great group of friends and one friend in particular willing to go the distance to make his birthday wish come true.
The party was over, but so was a lot more. Teen Spirit’s childhood was over, too.