A, my future son-in-law, texted me this morning about my daughter’s birthday next month. That in itself was a pleasant surprise. Because he felt that last year he was kind of a bust (not in his happiest place because of work stress, school stress, life stress), he wanted to do something special this year. That and this is the 29 birthday. Not quite the 30 milestone, yet still significant. He was thinking of throwing her a surprise party.
Umm … NO. We are not people who appreciate being center of attention, much less people who appreciate having to be center of attention sprung upon us.
However, I was more diplomatic and measured in my response. I did not say “A, what the f–k are you thinking? You want her to dump your sorry, thoughtless ass on her birthday?” Yes, it went through my mind. Yes, I think with profanity. What I said was “if you do this, keep it small and intimate. You know how she hates being the center of attention and will be really uncomfortable if it’s too large a group.” He agrees, but has made arrangements for her best friend from college and her other bestie from high school (and her two young children) to come up the Friday before her birthday. I suggested a family dinner at my house on Friday night and have her friends, kids, and significant others surprise her at that time. He liked the idea and will order her favorite dessert (we will pick up for surprise purposes) and get me final numbers (he was not sure about significant others) soon.
Bullet dodged. December family celebration on the calendar.
But it makes me wonder if we are just super weird about the whole surprise party aspect of life. In A’s family it’s a beloved tradition. In ours, it’s a “OMG don’t you ever do that to me!” nightmare scenario. My son seems the most likely to enjoy that sort of thing, but even he is uncomfortable having the spotlight shining directly down upon him. Having out-of-town friends show up on my doorstep for dinner will be a welcome and exciting surprise for her. I also suggested A find out what schedules are looking like for the two friends – they both have families in the area – and whether some grown-up girls hanging out time is going to be available on Saturday. If so, what would they like to do? Mani-pedi appointments followed by lunch and shopping might be appropriate. So would going out for dinner and drinks. Knowing these three ladies as well as I do, I think him arranging some time alone to catch up would be a fantastic gift.
I am not-so-secretly delighted he asked me. I certainly do not want to see him fail in doing nice things for my daughter, and it has been an ongoing adjustment from his family style of celebrations to our more low-key events.