Hosting a teenage party: Smells like teen spirits
Sixteen-year-old is at the gym, nursing a hangover. The vodka bottle I left in the fridge, which was supposed to last a summer, was drained last night.
Stirring spag bol in a pot, I'm struck by a sense of deja vu. I've stirred spag bol in this pot, probably the same pot, for 14 years, ever since she migrated from breastfeeding to munching on solids.
I thought that was hard enough, parenting a toddler who pulled at my legs, screamed till she was red in the face if I disappeared for a few seconds, even to go for a pee, and wouldn't go to sleep without a breastfeed, six books and 30 minutes of lullabies.
"What time are you home for dinner?" I text. "IDK," flies back, my phone beeping as the sauce bubbles. The only way to communicate with my digital native is by text.
Who was the fool to allow my daughter to have 65 kids over for mid-summer party last night? It seemed like a reasonable idea at the time.
She had worked hard with NCEA last year and deserved a celebration. Her friends would follow the rules she'd posted on the Facebook group invite – no alcohol without parental permission, no going upstairs, no gatecrashers and all over by 12.30am.
In reality, my night goes like this. At 7.30pm, my partner and I go for a stroll. The invite declares the party starts at 7.30pm, but she tells us no-one will turn up for an hour. A Previa van is parked at the bottom of the road. Half a dozen boys loiter on the van seats, guzzling from brown beer bottles.
"Oh my God," I whisper, "do you think they're coming?" My partner raises an eyebrow, as if to say, "Are you from the Mennonite community?"
At that moment, another group of boys emerge from a side road, staggering under the weight of beer cartons. In a few minutes, these burly boys resembling a mini Hurricanes team will arrive at my house.
"Shit," I whisper, pirouetting as quickly as a ballerina and heading up the hill. Music blares from the open windows, the base thumping down the hill.
Within minutes, teens descend on the house like a tornado. By 8.30pm, the living room is full of them, every spot of carpet covered by sneakers and heels. Bottles crack open, girls laugh, smile and preen themselves in front of the boys. Empty bottles litter the lawn and smash on the patio. Girls cling in packs for selfies and videos that are immediately uploaded to Snapchat.
My 13-year-old and her two giggling friends watch through a gap in the curtains upstairs. This party is reality TV in their own backyard.
A party goer heaves into a plastic container, before flopping on the couch with his eyes closed. Daughter is found in the pantry drinking vodka.
My partner grabs the bottle, and hides it in the pantry. "But I haven't drunk much, that was everyone else," she moans, slurring her words.
It's a moral dilemma for parents throwing parties these days. Our Kiwi culture unfortunately encourages binge drinking. If I don't allow them to drink, they'll find ways to sneak it in, or they'll party somewhere else. Isn't it better to have my daughter here, to supervise her under our roof?
Teens are coming down from upstairs and reprimanded for breaking a party rule. Must be 60 of them by now, in my house. It feels like we've been invaded by the enemy, outnumbered by teens.
I should have remembered to invite friends, and possibly a bouncer. I sip a glass of wine, alcohol calming my frantic brain.
"Great party Mum," she slurs, arm draped around a friend.
We got drunk as teenagers too, but we snuck out of the house and drank around beach bonfires. I came home with a love bite once, which I hid beneath a turtleneck jumper on Sunday morning, nursing my hangover at church.
I spent many weekends grounded, sucking up to my father on Saturdays so he would let me out. For some reason, I had thought my daughters shouldn't be subjected to such old-fashioned ways. Different times. Discipline seems harder to enforce now and while we were limited to word of mouth and the family landline, these teens can send their invites viral and capture the whole night online for eternity.
But some things are better now. At our parties, fags dripped out of our mouths as we burned through packets of Benson & Hedges. The unfortunate parents of the party thrower were usually away and unaware that their house was being trashed. We drove home drunk, or jumped into Ford Cortinas and Holden utes with drivers skulling from brown bottles as they worked the manual gears.
Tonight, there's not a cigarette to be seen among this sea of partying teens. We've had text communication with parents about whether their kids are allowed to drink, and the only three gatecrashers come over and introduce themselves before quietly joining in.
Even so, my head is thumping from stress and the music piercing through every cell of my body when the Hell pizza guy turns up with a dozen pizzas. The teens swoop like seagulls, stuffing triple cheese and meat into their gaping gobs, before heading back to the dance floor.
Although "dance floor" is overstating it – heels and sneakers jump up and down on the sideboard, and hearth, as balls of carpet fluff blow around the room. They're not dancing outside because Wellington is blowing a typical gale.
"Is it really...?" I ask my man, as the clock minute hand crawls past midnight. At 12.30am, a line of Uber cars crawl up the driveway, collecting the stumbling, fumbling teens who snake out the door. There's a zero alcohol limit for teen drivers, and not one of them drives home. The Previa stays parked at the bottom of the hill all night.
"You're brave," a father smiles, as he arrives to collect his half-cut daughter. "Rather you than me."
I think that in the morning, when I find a (thankfully unused) condom on the bathroom floor, and lean over to scoop beer bottles from the living room floor. She helps with the clean-up too. "How do I work this?" she asks, holding the limp mop in one tired hand.
According to Snapchat, Instagram and the texts that buzz on her phone all day, the party was a hit. I book a carpet cleaner and hope like hell that the condom had fallen out of someone's pocket.
"I'm going to have an even cooler party in Year 12," says the 13-year-old.
Unfortunately, my darling girl, your only party will involve a pretty cake and fizzy lemonade.