Over the weekend, I traveled to Richmond to help host a bon voyage party for my mom who, in just a few short weeks, will retire after 32 years of enriching young, impressionable five-year-old minds in kindergarten. It was just Lil’ Bit and me, as Jim unfortunately had to stay behind due to a death in his family. And so I found myself pulling double duty at the party as both hostess and full-time parent, smiling and greeting guests even as I deftly balanced a tray of dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets.
It was all quite a shock for me, a former party girl, even if that whole scene feels like a lifetime ago at this point. Growing up and becoming a mom has certainly changed the types of social functions I attend – and the way I act while I’m there.
Then again, it’s been said that having a toddler is like being at a perpetual frat party. And if this weekend was any indication, going to an actual party with one isn’t much different. On that note, below are five ways my mom’s retirement party was not unlike the keggers I used to attend as a carefree college coed at Radford University – even if I did spend most of it hanging out with a three-year-old.
1. Someone got naked.
The first shirt was doffed early in the evening after Lil’ Bit spilled bubble solution all over her younger cousin. At which point she, too, tried to take off her dress. “No, you may not take your clothes off at the party,” I said, reiterating the values my own parents had instilled in me prior to going away to college. But what’s good for the goose is not always good for the gander, as her older cousin later dropped trou right in the middle of a family photo op. Just like the Kappa Sig house, circa 1996. Good times.
2. I used the buddy system when going to the bathroom.
The party included a roast of my mom, which involved several tawdry (and TMI) tales about my parents over the years. Through it all, I sat trapped on their couch, shrinking into the cushions, eyes downcast, nose buried in a glass of wine – of which there was not enough in the world at the time – hearing these stories that could never, ever be unheard. That is, until Lil’ Bit suddenly announced, “I’m going to Nonnie’s bathroom!” I popped upright. “Good idea! I’ll go with you!” I didn’t tell her it was to vomit.
3. I was with “that girl.”
You know the one – she’s the lightweight who winds up making a dramatic scene of some sort before her friends are forced to carry her out of the party, usually crying. We’ve all been with that girl at some point. Hell, I’ve been that girl. But on this particular evening, “that girl” was my overtired and thoroughly punch drunk threenager, who ended the night running in circles around my parents’ dining room table mumbling unintelligible gibberish (something about being a spaceship and doing her best job) while I sat by describing the scene to Jim over the phone. “Oh my God,” I told him. “I kept her up too late and broke her brain.” Bidding him a quick goodnight, I caught my daughter on the next pass and scooped her up in my arms. “You’re cut off,” I said, and then carried her up to bed.
4. We partied too loud and annoyed our housemate.
It was already well past her bedtime when I tucked Lil’ Bit in and returned to the party, which was winding down except for a few close (but rowdy) friends. Regardless, when I went to check on her a little while later, I found her sitting up in bed demanding to go back downstairs. And with a sigh of resignation – it was pointless to fight her at that point – I let her. Whereupon she informed our remaining guests, “It’s time for Nonnie’s friends to go home now.”
5. I woke up the next morning to find a strange person in my bed.
Due to a full house, Lil’ Bit and I were forced to bunk together following the party. Despite her wild night, she awoke early the next morning and, upon discovering she had company, gave me a slow, sleepy smile before saying (with vigor), “Mommy? I need a drink.” Then she took a swig of water from a sippy cup on the bedside table and promptly passed back out again.
So, I guess it’s true what they say…
The more things change, the more they stay the same.