Six Children and No Theories

Covering parenting and child development issues

Sweet Sixteen

Written by Lisa Lawmaster Hess, Community Blogger | Nov 8, 2013 8:01 AM

This weekend, we are headed to New York to celebrate my daughter's sixteenth birthday. My easy-going kid, who doesn't typically have any idea how she wants to celebrate her birthday, has been planning this for almost a year. Originally a girls' weekend with my daughter, her friends and the moms, it has morphed into a trip for my husband and me, my daughter and two of her friends. Adjoining hotel rooms. A Broadway show. Ice skating. A serious dent to the checkbook.

As I write this, I feel as though I should make excuses for these extravagances, and the truth is, a generous, non-specific from her grandparents (and her friends' parents' willingness to pay for show tickets) is a large part of what is making this trip possible. 

But I'm also coming to realize that this trip is an extension of the philosophy I've been trying to live out since I retired -- more time with my family, more opportunities to do things together before those chances dwindle and my daughter leaves home for college.

When I turned 50, my husband asked me how I wanted to celebrate, and I told him I wanted to take a trip. He'd thrown a party for my 40th, and it had been a lot of fun, but this time, I wanted to do something different, something I'd remember in a different way. And, since our birthdays are two months apart and our wedding anniversary falls between the two, we lumped all the celebrations together into one trip. We talked about beaches, we talked about cruises, but in the end, what fit our tastes, our schedule and our budget best was New York.

We took the train, spent the weekend in a nice hotel, and saw a show. We went shopping and Starbucks-hopping (you celebrate your way, I'll celebrate mine) and walked for miles. It was a wonderful weekend -- one where each family member did something he or she enjoyed. It was my daughter's first trip to the City, her first Broadway show, her first train ride.  

But, as this trip we're currently planning makes clear, it wouldn't be her last. Shortly after her last birthday (about a year after our family NY trip), she announced that she knew exactly how she wanted to celebrate her sixteenth birthday, and she has remained steadfast in that desire ever since.

And so tomorrow morning, we board the train. Me with my laptop, my husband with his iPad and the girls with their abundance of electronics and nervous energy. The trip we've been planning for nearly a year will fly by, much as the last sixteen years have, and before we know it, she'll be headed off to college and the semester abroad she's got her heart set on. 

But this weekend, we'll capture a moment in time. We'll watch her ice skate in Bryant Park and I'll try to keep her father from embarrassing her with too many pictures. My husband and I will watch with pride the wonderful young woman our daughter has become, grateful to be making memories that will linger long after the candles have been blown out on her cookie cake.

Indulgent? Maybe. But you only turn sixteen once, and after that, life speeds up tremendously. Best to capture those moments before they float away.

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