Monday, May 4, 2015

Mum, can I go to a party?

French Village Diaries teenagers family life France parties parenting
He is no baby now

“Mum, can I go to a party?”

“I guess so, when is it?”

“Mum, that party…”

“Yes?”

“It’s now a sleepover party, that’s still OK though isn’t it?”

“Oh, I guess so, where is it?”

“Mum, that sleepover…”

“Yes?”

“It’s at the salle des fêtes (village hall) in Les Gours, that’s still OK though isn’t it?”

“Oh, OK, but whose party is it? Is there going to be an adult there? What about food and drink? What about girls?”

“Oh Mum!”

Panic! My baby is 14 and although he is responsible and sensible and like the rest of his year group seems to be ready for mixed sleepovers in village halls, I’m not! For a quiet, shy child who has only recently blossomed with the confidence that comes from now being accepted into a group of mates, I was both delighted he wanted to go, but terrified of the ‘what-ifs’ too. Ade and I were wavering and needed help with our decision so I asked another mum with a daughter in Ed’s year if she was going.

“Oh No, No, No, No! They are too young, I don’t know the family organizing it and it’s in a public venue where anyone could turn up. No, she wanted to, but No!”

In a way I was relieved someone else shared my fears and fuelled my argument, as now I knew that if I said no, he wouldn’t be the only one not to be there. I felt mean, but it felt safe and that made me happy. I did however decide to get one more opinion from another family whose son had been invited and who have a slightly older daughter so therefore more experience than us. It was a much more reassuring call. They had known the family for about ten years and were more than happy that they were normal, responsible people. They also told me that this type of sleepover in a hall is ‘the done thing’ for kids in rural France. Their son would be there, their daughter had already been there, done that and it was just a part of growing up. Our decision was changing again and it was agreed Ed could go, so long as he agreed to the rules: no alcohol, no smoking, no drugs, no sex and no leaving the hall (unless in an emergency) and if anyone you don’t know turns up and starts causing trouble RING US, whatever the time.

I’m not sure if kids in France seem to grow up quicker than in the UK or if it’s just that kids of this generation are more advanced than I was at their age. Thankfully I can report Ed had a great time on Saturday and returned home happy, tired and just a little bit more grown up after a night of laughs, music, pizza and selfies, but not much sleep. To think it only feels like yesterday that it seemed so important to be worrying about him not eating solid foods with lumps in or how we were going to progress to dry nights without nappies. I certainly feel tired and old after what turned out to be a busy weekend for us (too busy even to indulge in my patisserie challenge, sorry).