Riding the train to work last week, I put together an invitation for Max's 14th birthday party. It's going to have a (what else?) firefighter theme. But there will be a clown, the same awesome one who's been at previous parties. Max has been having parties at a bowling alley for the past few years but now that he wanted it back at our house, he asked to have her there.
I tried to wrap my head around the fact that Max was turning fourteen. FOURTEEN. How did that happen?! And then, as I searched evite for firefighter-themed invitations, I tried to wrap my head around finding one that didn't look too childish. I settled on one with a fire hose.
But then, did the look of the invite even matter? I have a teen who continues to love all things firefighter and fire truck. I have a teen who enjoys having clowns at his birthday party who hand out balloon animals (and who is blissfully unaware of the sinister clown phenomenon of 2016). I have a teen who wants a birthday cake with a photo of his favorite fire truck on it, and who insists on being called Fireman Max.
Come the holidays, I will be looking to buy Max—at his request—yet more fire trucks to play with; he enjoys sitting on our deck or in our basement and zooming them around. Some of the toys' packaging will proclaim "Ages 3+" and the like. The new firefighter boots he wants are a bit of a challenge to find, as they're all little-kid sizes.
Sometimes, this gap between what's considered age-appropriate and Max's reality gives me pause. I sat in my seat on the train and stared at the fire-hose invitation, pondering it. As inevitably happens at times like these, I had to come to grips with my reality—and let go of preconceptions about how your children "should" behave.
In the end, it comes down to this: what makes Max happy makes Max happy. Recommended ages? Who cares. Too babyish? Doesn't matter for events like these, where he's surrounded by family and friends who accept Max for the ebullient, fun-loving, firefighter wannabe boy that he is.
I filled in names on the invite list, and then I hit send.