So, once the Bat Mitzvah saga died down, my daughter decided on an evening party that would incorporate both activities (run by her mother) and a standard dance party” (what my husband and I were trying to avoid in efforts to create something more unique and meaningful).
In any event, the plan was to facilitate 12 activities (each 10 minutes long) in which each activity would represent that year of childhood.
For instance, the activity for year 1 was for the kids to sit on the floor and roll balls back and forth to each other.
Year 2 – a spinning contest
Year 3 – blowing bubbles
Year 4 – playing with balloons
Year 5 – coloring and writing personal cards to Ayalah,
And so on and so forth until age 12.
Yet, as the old Yiddish proverb goes, “Man plans and G-d laughs.”
And, oh boy, was G-d laughing on Sunday night.
The night actually started out lovely as the 50 12-13 year olds sat nicely on the floor watching the 8-minute video montage that my daughter and I created.
Great, I thought to myself. These kids are calm, disciplined, and respectful.
This is going to be a great evening.
And, my daughter is going to love me forever.
Yet, it didn’t take me too long to realize that my ingenious idea wasn’t going to be as successful as planned.
All I had to do was open my eyes and watch the boys pegging each other during “year 1”.
Chaos is what ensued.
I got nervous.
I cut that activity short and went right to the next activity, “spinning”.
Which the kids liked, but for some reason, I couldn’t get the music to play loudly enough, and without the music the atmosphere for that activity was more or less lost.
OK, the bubbles they loved… They really acted like 3 year olds – each grabbing for his/her own bottle as if it was the first time they’d ever seen bubbles in their lives.
But, the boys just couldn’t handle the balloon activity. While the girls were appropriately tapping the balloons back and forth, the boys (unbeknownst to me) were running to the bathroom to fill theirs up with water.
And, consequently creating water bombs which made a complete mess (which later I stayed up until midnight cleaning up.)
I lost it on a few of the boys, reprimanding them on respect – both for Ayalah and the place and for me.
The coloring was actually the most successful activity so far – each kid taking a small notecard and writing a blessing on it for Ayalah.
But, at age 6 – when I taught the kids “Duck, Duck, Goose”, one of the girls who was being chased by the goose, slipped on the spilled water from the balloons and fell on her knee. She burst out in tears and was complaining of pain.
In my eyes, the night was going from bad to worse.
There was so much noise in the social hall that I didn’t even try to get their attention for activity for age 7.
The girls were acting almost as wildly as the boys at this point.
I started to panic.
I still had 1.5 more hours to fill before the bus would come to take them home.
As I was getting more and more frantic, I kept peeking over at my daughter, wondering what she was thinking.
Which either had to be:
1) My mom is embarrassing me. I wish she never had this idea. I wish we never even had this party. This is a disaster. Where is the closest rock I can hide under? I want to cry.
2) Or, ….
Actually, I didn’t think there was an “or”.
I was stuck on the fact that my daughter wanted to crawl into a hole.
I was stuck on being the worst mother in the world – for wanting to do something different; for wanting to create something meaningful for my daughter, and for just ruining her whole celebration in the worst way.
I was stuck on, “Why didn’t we just order a freakin’ DJ and keep it simple, like all the other girls in the class did?”
I stopped and took a breath.
I walked over to my daughter and asked how she was doing.
She convinced me that she was fine.
She showed no sense of being upset or embarrassed.
She seemed genuinely happy.
She suggested to me that we should just put on some music on and let the kids dance.
So, we played some music (although again, it wasn’t playing loudly enough from my laptop to really enjoy it).
And without a DJ, after about 5 songs, we ran out of music.
And we still had 45 minutes to go.
Lucky for us (or THANK YOU G-d!!!!), one of Ayalah’s friends asked if she could plug her Ipod into the sound system.
“Do you know how?” I asked naively. “Are you sure it would work?”
Confidently, she reassured me that it would be fine.
And, it was.
Her music played.
And, within a matter of minutes, a group of kids crowded by the sound system turning themselves into the party’s very own DJs.
I dimmed the lights and the kids were in all their glory: dancing, jumping, hugging, giggling.
At the end of the evening as the kids left, each of them thanked me, said “Mazal Tov!” (Congratulations!) with a great big smile, or said “This was the BEST party ever! We had so much fun!”
And better yet, my daughter thanked me with complete sincerity.
So, while I had earlier been stuck on being a terrible mother, I came to Choose another perspective which was – that I tried my best.
I really did.
I planned, I ordered, I reserved, I created, I bought, I set up, I coordinated, I facilitated, I swept, I mopped, and I cleaned up.
I did the best I could.
And, lucky for me, I have a daughter who recognizes that.
And, if I could think of one only one blessing that I would want to offer her, it would be to bless her with the gift of compassion: that is, acknowledging that whatever effort her family or friends do for her, it’s probably done out of their best ability and their best intentions.
And, no matter how any event or experience turns out, she should remember that.
And, the truth is if she already knows and lives by this, then I just may have to be stuck on being a great mom for having taught that invaluable life lesson to her in the first place.