The After Party

January 22, 2017

Through the social years of formal dances, my house has hosted many after parties. Meaning, the “party” after the dance – you know, where the kids can continue to hang out and eat. Because that’s what teenagers do best. I’m always amazed at how they never really get sick of hanging out. They were just at dinner and a dance together and traveling to and from together…so why do they need to hang out AFTER the dance and eat again? But they do. So I better hop on board.

But no matter what, I’ll always be the sucker who raises her hand when nobody else quickly does to host the after party. Reminds me of being in school when the teacher would ask who would be willing to give their oral report first. It never failed that my hand went up without having a pow-wow with my brain within the first few seconds of her asking the question (I obviously need to become friends with awkward silence)…but in the end, I was always glad I got the oral report over with – and I’m always glad to have hosted the after party.

The things that go into getting a girl ready for a dance is a far cry from what a boy has to do. Good gracious. I NEVER did the things girls do today for a dance. I think my mom made most of my dance dresses – and before you snicker at that, she did a great job making my dresses just perfect for the 80’s – you know the dresses – the ones that would enable you to take flight if a strong wind came a calling.

I don’t even know if nail shops were AROUND in the 80’s, so obviously a mani/pedi wasn’t on the agenda. Oh, and the only person who fixed my hair was my sister. Now, I am in a vein popping negotiation session with my daughters when we are talking about how much money is going to be spent getting ready for a dance.

I’m always the one who walks away bitter.

And I’m the old school one who believes it’s insane to treat these dances like a bride getting ready for her wedding.

Good gosh, it’s almost like the biblical days of Esther where the women had to do 12 months of beauty treatments to be presented to the King. But there is no King here. Just a boy/date whom they will probably not even hang out with much after the dance. Mercy.

In the end, my girls are on the hook for paying a portion of their beauty regimen. Funny how when they learn that part, they ask me or a friend to do their makeup.

We hosted an after party recently for 24 kids. They didn’t get to my house until 11:30 p.m….The party was supposed to be over at 1 a.m. Around 11:45 p.m., I looked around and couldn’t find my husband. He did it again.

He disappeared.

You would think I would be mad at being left to chaperone 24 teenagers myself, but he does this to me every time we host an after party…it’s what I’ve come to expect. It’s like a dog who goes off into the bushes and hides when they are sick. No announcement, no fanfare (not even hiking his leg), just a quiet, covert exit.

His argument is this: he knows I would never go to bed early with so many kids here, so why do two of us need to be up? At least one of us should get some sleep, and since he knows it won’t be me, it may as well be him.

What a lawyer.

It never fails that the most desired place to hang out is the kitchen. I don’t care if your kitchen is the size of a cracker box or the size of Rachel Ray’s, that’s where people want to be. As I’m fussing over making sure everyone had enough food (I really do have an issue with that) I come into the kitchen to find at least 12 bodies sitting on the kitchen island and countertop by the sink. Ties loosened, high heels kicked off, and even one girl pulling off her false eyelashes. Ah, the freedom.

They were all crammed in together, laughing and loving every minute of it. No alcohol, no foul language. Clean fun can still happen contrary to what a lot of people think.

A big, comfy sectional couch was in the next room. Along with a ping pong table. And a media room was next to that. But half the group chose the kitchen countertops to chit chat.

It reminded me of when I was little and chose to play in the cardboard box instead of play with my shiny new gift. Or when my sister and I spread a blanket out on the floor, got all dressed up in my mom’s clothes and high heels and pretended our blanket was a boat on the rough high seas. Now that was fun. Even if I did get a little seasick.

Sometimes the simplest things are the best things.

I started thinking that in two short years, when my youngest child cuts the already thread bare apron strings, there won’t be another chance to fuss over the food and host an after party. The kitchen island and the countertops will be empty, the dishes will be put away and then it will be just me and the lawyer, who can go to bed early without getting in trouble.

And it makes me sad.

My children’s high school years will soon be a memory. I don’t know if my brain can fully comprehend that the current moment I am in will be a memory that I’ll treasure.

I have a hunch that the next time an after party house is needed, I’ll raise my hand again without having a pow-wow with my brain. Apparently, a lot of food and cleared countertops is all that will be needed.

And I can’t wait.


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  • Jill Bechtold January 23, 2017 at 10:52 pm

    Hey JuJu…just keep raising your hand without having a pow-wow with your brain…it’s a blessing to everyone around you!!

  • Amy January 23, 2017 at 7:11 am

    Wonderful post, Julie. So true also. Keep on hosting those parties. We WILL miss it when there aren’t any more to host.

  • Cara Berkman January 23, 2017 at 6:29 am

    My days of after parties I’m sure are coming and I hope I can look at it the way you do and open my home as graciously as you do. Your house is where everybody wants to go to and I’ve always known why. You will NEVER regret opening your doors for those get togethers!

  • Suzy K January 23, 2017 at 5:21 am

    I love reading your post and close my eyes to imagine the kids, conversation, and pure fun they must be having. God will bless you for opening your door and heart to these times and the memories that are there for each of them. Cherish them some of us don’t have them.