The Difference Between Your Child's Birthday At Six and 16

A lot can change in 10 short years.
Happy Birthday to you!
Happy Birthday to you!

I am about to host my son's 16 birthday party. Let me rephrase that -- my son is having his 16 birthday party and it's at our house. It doesn't feel that long ago that I was hosting his 6 birthday party (and really I was hosting that one) but when you look at it with perspective you can see that a lot has changed in the past 10 years.

For your child's 6th birthday party you tell your neighbours you are having a party, invite their kids and promise the noise will be over by 4pm.

For your teen's 16 birthday party you tell your neighbours you are having a party and that you are very sorry and you promise that the noise should be over by 11pm. 11:30 latest.

For your child's 6 birthday party you plan the date taking into account all family arrangements and activities. You also check with the parents of other children who are born around the same time.

For your teen's 16 birthday party you wait till he tells you what date his friends have decided he should have his party.

For your child's 6 birthday party you stress over the invite list, being careful not to invite too many people while at the same time making sure no one feels left out.

For your teen's 16 birthday party he tells you how many people he's just asked and by the time you get up off the floor they have all responded that they are coming.

For your child's 6 birthday party you hand print all the invitations and make sure the date and time are clearly laid out while still keeping the invitation eye-catching and fridge-magnet worthy.

For your teen's 16 birthday party you never get to see the invitation because you are not part of that WhatsApp group.

For your child's 6 birthday party you are one of the most important guests.

For your teen's 16 birthday party he will begrudgingly accept that you have to be there because you live there.

For your child's 6 birthday party you worry about whether there is too much sugar in fruit juice and think about just serving water instead.

For your teen's 16 birthday party you tell him to tell his friends that there will be a bag check at entry and anyone bringing alcohol into the party will be sent home.

For your child's 6 birthday party you ensure that there is a cake that looks brilliant on the outside and is easy to eat without messing up the carpet on which the kids are huddled.

For your teen's 16 birthday party you beg him to allow you to bake a cake and you promise not to make it too noticeable. Singing happy birthday is banned.

For your child's 6 birthday party you get to decide if there are any decorations and what colour paper plates and serviettes you use. You also get to blow up balloons.

For your teen's 16 birthday party you are asked to move all the furniture out of the house and not to touch another thing.

For your child's 6 birthday party you call Sparkles the Clown and ask him to come entertain the kids.

For your teen's 16 birthday party you call a security company and ask private security guards to check bags and send away gatecrashers.

For your child's 6 birthday party you fuss over food wondering how much will get eaten and how much will get squashed into the carpet.

For your teen's 16 birthday party you fuss over food wondering how much will get eaten and how much will get squashed into the carpet (some things never change).

For your child's 6 birthday party you hope that too many parents won't stick around because that means you have to cater for them.

For your teen's 16 birthday party you beg your child's friends' parents to stick around to try and dissuade the kids from doing anything they wouldn't do in front of the parents.

And 10 years later, when it is your child's 26 birthday party, you'll be lucky to score an invite.