My daughter will not have a Sweet Sixteen party. Okay, so maybe I’m jumping the gun with this proclamation here considering my daughter is only eleven. I have a good four plus years to get beaten down on this topic by her—right now she doesn’t want one, but then again, her friends are also ELEVEN. At this point in time, all she cares about is Legos and watching You Tube videos of people building Legos. And videos of people opening packages of Legos. And girls doing handstands on their beds. She doesn’t care about tiaras and cakes and good forbid you even look sideway at a poofy dress in a store. Her idea of “dressed up” is combing her hair. She doesn’t wear make-up and she doesn’t even carry a purse. She’s as un-girlie as they get.
I know a lot can change in the next four and a half years. In fact, I know a lot will change. But what won’t change is my resolve…there will be NO SWEET SIXTEEN PARTY…erm…GALA. Because what I’ve seen in my Facebook feed over the last couple years are not PARTIES. They’re GALAS…fit for Princesses and Presidents.
Do not for a second think that I don’t adore her and she’s not my princess (she’s got the market cornered on sweatpants wearin’, Lego buildin’, pancake cookin’ nerd princess…in fact, she’s their Queen). However, I do not think that the mere accomplishment of sixteen trips around the sun should require me to celebrate by taking out a second mortgage on my house. And yes, I do know people who have taken out loans and second mortgages just to finance their princess’s birthday party. Because that’s all it is…a birthday party for overindulgent parents.
Maybe it’s moms living vicariously through their daughters or something, but it boggles my mind how Sweet Sixteen parties have gotten so out of hand. Years ago if you had a Sweet Sixteen you had a few friends over for cake. If you were really lucky, your parents might have taken you for a fancy dinner or hired a DJ for your backyard pool party (usually local stoner with a lot of stereo equipment…not a professional one). Are the moms of my generation so bitter about this experience that they have been dreaming of tulle gowns and ice sculptures since the late 80s???? How has it gone from the parties of yesteryear to horse drawn carriages, attendants (are you frickin’ kidding me????) and more guests than I had at my wedding??? How do these sixteen year olds even KNOW that many people??? This is not a roller skating party celebrating a birthday. It’s a financial nightmare—a strain on society. Not just the family of the birthday girl but anyone invited or asked to be involved. I mean, what’s the going rate for a Sweet Sixteen party gift? I know weddings are now in the neighborhood of two to three hundred dollars. Am I supposed to shell out that kind of cash if I have the unfortunate luck of being invited to one of these monstrosities?
This is part of what’s wrong with this generation coming up…this iPhone, materialistic, Look at Me Me Me generation. They want, want, want and parents give, give, give. There is no saying “No” to them. This is spoiling, pure and simple…and setting them up for failure and disappointment later on in life. Life isn’t going to give you a sparkly tiara every time you hit a “milestone”. A Sweet Sixteen party (by today’s standards) is the ultimate “participation trophy”. Don’t feed me that antiquated crap about “coming out in society” or it’s a “rite of passage”. That was in the nineteenth century. These are the same girls and women that are screaming about equality. Well here ya go…what sixteen year old boy gets a Sweet Sixteen? None. And lucky them because maybe their parents won’t be in financial stress when it comes time for them to drive and maybe, just maybe, those parents can give them some money toward a car or college…something necessary and valuable, something that lasts well beyond one magical night of attention. That’s why my daughter’s not having a GALA. She can have a party with a few friends or a nice dinner out or even a pool party…just like the Sweet Sixteen parties of my youth. She won’t have that night of unbridled spoiling, but maybe, just maybe, she’ll be better off for it.