I don’t think it should be possible to have a fourteen-year-old when I still easily remember being that age. Sometimes I feel like I still am that age. I’m basically like a teen mom. So young and hip. Hmm, just using the word ‘hip’ automatically makes me the opposite.
So Chloe turned fourteen last Saturday. We’ve had a disjointed week of celebrating because of our jaunt (another old-person word) to Minneapolis. We drove all day on her birthday, so we celebrated the day before. We went to see The Hunger Games (so good!), had sushi and cake for dinner, and gave her her gift. We got her an iPod Touch, which she wasn’t expecting – despite the emails she got from Apple earlier that week saying WELCOME TO YOUR NEW IPOD TOUCH. They helped me set up her email at the Apple Store and I didn’t clue in that her emails would also appear on her regular email account. We had to weave a tangled web of white lies, but she says she believed us and thought the emails were sent to her by mistake.
Chloe with her iPod. Neve is always a little sad when it’s someone else’s birthday, especially when she has eleven months to wait until hers.
Grandma and Bob & Janet both dropped in briefly to wish her a happy birthday. As mentioned, we spent a large part of the day in the car on her actual birthday, but thought we’d go out for a nice birthday dinner. We stayed downtown, which I remembered differently from the one time I’d been there many years ago (more on that next time). When we asked the hotel staff to recommend a family-friend restaurant nearby, he directed us to one called Hell’s Kitchen. With the slogan of “damn good food,” it didn’t sound super family-friendly but we went to check it out. There was a long line-up to get in, a live band playing and not a person under 21 in sight. So we walked around for a while trying to find something else, but the only restaurants we found were either fancy or closed. We were getting to the if-we-don’t-eat-something-soon-we-will-collapse-on-the-sidewalk-and-moan stage, so we dragged ourselves back to the van and decided to find a boring but familiar chain restaurant.
Long story short, we ended up at the Mall of America and Chloe chose to eat at the Rainforest Café. If I could live that evening over again, I would do it differently. First of all, I thought for sure they’d do something special for birthdays, so when I told the waitress it was Chloe’s birthday, she said, “Okay, we have a chocolate volcano you can order for $13.99.” What happened to a free piece of cake? Or how about just turning your head and saying, “Happy birthday” to the birthday girl? We didn’t end up getting any birthday dessert; luckily we had a box of fudge from Scheels in our hotel room. Secondly, do you know how loud that place is? It was super crowded mostly with children under 5, the apes were squealing above us, there was occasionally a loud fake thunderstorm, and whenever a waiter brought out a chocolate volcano (which everyone in the restaurant ordered except us), all the waiters shouted and yelled. That was so annoying I felt like punching them in the face. My senses were very overloaded and I was so relieved when we finally got back to our quiet hotel room.
Fast forward to tonight. I am writing this sequestered in the study while Chloe has friends over to celebrate some more. A while back, I told Chloe my birthday party planning years are over, at least for her. I encouraged her to do her own party planning and invite friends to go bowling or something. Then I offered to order pizza if they wanted to come here after. Then I ordered a DQ ice cream cake. And bought helium balloons. And Justin Bieber napkins and plates. And chips and pop. And veggies and dip. And Eggies and gummi bears. Sounds like I’m still in the party-planning business. I drew the line at goodie bags though. Oh well, it has been pretty low maintenance. They’re currently watching movies in the basement while making duct tape flip-flops. However, there is no official party end-time, which is slightly concerning.
Now for a few sappy words of love for Future Chloe to read someday. I’m so proud of the confident, lovely person you are. When I talked to a couple of your teachers last week, they both were impressed by your confidence and how you appear to be fully comfortable with who you are. It’s something I have always wished for you; it was one of the best things they could have said. You’re also responsible and kind and love to laugh. I love that you’re always willing to try new things, even when it means going for a seven mile run on vacation. I could say many more nice things about you but I feel shy to brag in public. Obviously not that shy.
On a related note, this is for parents of pre-schoolers. Don’t listen to the people that speak ominously about the teenage years. I know Chloe’s been very easy on us so far and I’m not naïve enough to think we will get through it unscathed, but I think any age when a kid can not only use the bathroom independently, but also clean that bathroom weekly, is automatically a thousand times easier than a 2-year-old. Look at me trying to be all wise, dispensing parenting advice; now things are guaranteed to get rough for us. If that happens, I will delete this post.