Daughter Number One has just become a "teen" - a creature spoken about in hushed tones, and which prompts other parents to nod wisely with that sympathetic (or is it pitiful?) look about them, all the while shrugging their shoulders with a "what can you do about them?" air.
Is this the age when they start hiding their bottles?
And Daughter Number Two is now a "Tween" - but having already had one of those in the house, I've got the full handle on this phase. I think.
So a very happy birthday to my girls.
We parents were bullied (read: nagged senseless) into hosting two separate parties at our house - for never the twain shall meet when it comes to "her" friends, who are all "awful".
I am still recovering and I have the worn out ear-plugs to prove it.
Watching your own kids interact within a large group is an interesting past-time, and it has been fascinating to watch them in their natural habitat. And this may be one of the last time I'm "allowed" to observe.
For the first time, Daughter Number One wanted to invite a new species into the house - namely "boys". While I may not be too familiar with the average 12 and 13 year old male of the 2011 variety, I am not so old as to forget what they are really like. Namely noisy, and likely to slip in to play-fighting at the drop of a hat and knock my pictures flying. And give it another year or two and I'll be worrying about a whole host of other issues. But let's not rush there yet.
So for Party Number One for Daughter Number One - we cleared out a large room in the basement - removed bicycles and furniture, blocked bedrooms and decorated with streamers and balloons in non-girly colours of black and purple. A borrowed karaoke machine was barely touched and who knew 30 balloons on the floor could be quite so entertaining. They were a good bunch, pretty noisy and not too destructive and I cleverly limited the party to three hours, just in case .....
And then we repeated the whole episode last night in aid of Party Number Two for Daughter Number Two. Only girls for this one, as boys are apparently pretty disgusting and smelly, though I did hear the merits (or not) of Justin Beiber being discussed several times.
Girls are NOISY. Holy Moly - there was one child there that I needed to gag - seriously. How is her mother still sane? The kind of voice that gives chalk on a blackboard a run for it's money. But again, balloons were a hit, as was the old English favourite of Pass the Parcel - and I think the fact that the girls were not really familiar with this game negated the issue that I'd usually only offer it to 6 year olds.
My lack of dining room furniture, added together with a large open wooden floor in front of a computer, makes a fantastic You-Tube inspired dance studio for a group of excitable 11-year olds.
I could add here that Daughter Number Two wanted a theme - dress up as someone famous. So last night at about 5.30pm I welcomed into my home one Mickey Mouse, a mini-sized Ke$ha, two Taylor Swifts, one Katy Perry, a pink-haired Avril Lavigne, a be-glittered Lady Ga Ga and a demure Kit Kittredge. (Maybe this says more about us parents allowing our children out of the house like this, than it does about Celebrity these days?!)
To these outfits, add in full-on party mode, mix in some eating and drinking, dunking your face in snow and/or cake (delete as applicable) and throwing caution and wigs to the wind - and the group of "children" that left my house by 9pm bore a startling resemblance to crack-whores. Smudged make-up, smeared lipstick and torn fishnet tights - you get the picture - like a photo shoot gone badly wrong.
It is now Saturday morning, my house is vaguely my own again and I do not have to consider this routine again for another twelve months - yippee. February is always an expensive and exhausting project.
By the way, give it up ladies and gentlemen, to Dairy Queen for inventing the best ice-cream cakes EVA!
Ahh, but wait - it is my birthday next month and I really cannot decide whether to invite boys or not - whether to perhaps dress up in a funky, fish-net inspired theme, or just open a large bottle of wine. Mmmm.