How do you make a newly minted 12-year-old happy?

Renting a PG-13 movie and inviting over 12 of her closest friends should do the trick. My daughter was actually so shocked that I would allow a PG-13 movie that on her homemade invites she stated in bold:

"My mom is actually letting us watch a PG-13 movie so you all don't have to be bored watching Barney."

She's so funny I forgot to laugh.

What do you mean you're surprised you could watch a PG-13 movie? 12 is apparently the new 40. You and your girlfriends, thanks to an in-depth Sex Ed seminar last year, are more in-the-know than any PG-13 movie could possibly reveal. In fact, I'm sure all the girls analyzed Kate Hudson's performance based on the outlined notes from class.

"Jeeze, can you believe she just jumped into Matthew McConaughey's arms and kissed him like that? Instead of preparing herself with a boatload of protection first?"

"I know, it's not safe to jump into anything too prematurely, you could get a sexually transmitted disease."

"Well, they are married, even though they're getting divorced, but still, she could end up a single mother with no future."

After all that, my lovely daughter thought Fool's Gold was long and super boring. That'll teach her. And, no, we're not getting an R next year. She'll have to wait a good solid two years before I buckle on that.

So the 12 girls descend on us like a swarm of very polite flies. We offer a taco bar and they accept. They eat, laugh, gossip, have a beautiful trifle which is painstakingly layered with chocolate cake and pudding, she opens presents (and got lots of girlie lip gloss), and then they go into the bowels of our basement and never come up. Literally. And our basement is only half finished, with beams exposed and white paint hastily plied over rough concrete walls. It's a good thing 12-year-olds aren't picky.

At 9 pm half of them came up, blinking as their pupils adjusted, and went home, while the other half waited for parents until 10. All in all it was a fairly easy task. My 8-year-old's birthday party was much worse. She had 8 screaming, hysterical, energy-packed, 8-year-olds, and I swear all they did was scream like Sirens the entire time. Don't get me wrong -- they had fun, but lordy, lordy, the decibel level in our house was on edge from the moment they landed to the very moment they left. Harrowing is the only word for it.

We accidentally planned my 12-year-old's party on National Night Out. It was an honest mistake, but left our block feeling a bit left out of all the fun. You could literally crane your neck outside and see every block around us filled with people rioting in the streets, libations held high while children raced through the yards in packs numbering at least 1,000. Our block was kind enough to change the night so our family could attend (much too nice). It's a good thing, too, since my children have deemed NNO as "the funnest day of the year."

Really? The funnest? 'Cause jumping off that cliff in Jamaica was pretty darn cool. Or being twenty feet from a blue whale in a tiny fishing boat off the coast of Mexico had to rank pretty high.

Nope. We love the block party.

So, you're saying we could skip all our fun family vacations and just have a few NNO's?


There you have it folks. No need to do anything out of the ordinary, you can simply step outside your door with a beer in your fist and a burger on the grill and everything is all good. Let's hope this Wednesday will live up to their super high expectations. I'll have to compose a flow chart with side-by-side comparisons of them jumping over the Continental Divide to them sitting on a broken lawn chair clutching their hot dog and Juicy Juice and see what they say this time.

Go, Michael Phelps!
Come for some fun!

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