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It’s hard to be cool (07/02/2006)
By Cynthya Porter

It's not easy to be cool when you're 13. But it's even harder to be cool if you're the parent of a 13-year-old.

Granted, I don't spend much time worrying about how to impress my kids' friends, but I was really determined to throw my daughter a cool 13th birthday party. Kewl, I mean.

Thirteen is kind of a mystery age, when I bounce between my daughter's adoration and being considered the stupidest person on the planet.

Part of that label depends on my up-to-the-nanosecond understanding of precisely what is kewl on any particular day.

The other part of that label stems from my ability to not embarrass my daughter in front of her friends, it turns out.

Bowling, it seems, is still an acceptable activity when you're 13, so armed with cake, treat bags and almost a dozen adolescents, we descended on a local bowling alley.

My first mistake was thinking it was a good idea to bowl in a lane next to my daughter and her friends. Or really to bowl at all.

With hip hop music pumping over the speakers, we bowled side by side, me and this sea of hormonal coolness, and oh yeeaahhh, I was pretty good.

So good, in fact, that apparently I figured I didn't have to think about things like lane oil, sticky soda pop and the laws of physics.

Beautiful approach, steady swing and.... uh oh.

From wiping up pop spills my hand was ever so slightly sticky, which didn't seem like a big deal until it made the ball stick to one of my fingers.

What happened after I instinctively took an extra step forward with the stuck ball is kind of a blur, but I know it involved lane oil, flying arms and legs and a bowling ball.

Lying on my back about four feet into the lane I could feel my elbow, butt and kneecap throbbing. How all three of those things could hurt from one fall is beyond me, but it must have been interesting to watch.

And see, there is no graceful exit from four feet into a bowling alley lane, because it is covered with oil, of course, which is great for bowling but bad for standing erect.

With no other choice, I scoot on my butt until I am out of the lane and can stand, while the party next door watches me with mouths agape. All, of course, except for my daughter, who is mortified and has her hand over her eyes.

Limping and trying to salvage any semblance of dignity, I turn my attention to party duties like cake and treat bags instead of bowling, which now felt very uncool.

At first when I told my daughter I was making treat bags I got the requisite eye-roll. "Mom, I'm thirteen," she said in total disgust.

But I had wracked my brain on these things, and they were going to be kewl treat bags with gum, little decks of cards, candy and bottle coolers.

A few of the bottle coolers had drawstrings and the rest had zippers and her friends loved them.

But my smugness turned to horror when I watched a couple of the kids try to shove their 20 oz. sodas into them.

My bright, fun bottle coolers were for beer bottles.

Woohooo kids, let's all head out to the trunk and grab ourselves a cold one...

The problem is that 13-year-olds today are smart, and they knew what I'd done before I did.

I tried to explain, I tried to take them back, but there was really no saving the situation at that point.

My daughter's friends thought it was hilarious, and told her what a kewl mom she had to hand out beer coolers as a party favor.

Oh yeah kids, that's right. I'm the kewlest...with a big ring of oil on my butt and beer coolers for all the kiddies.

I'm not positive, but I think my daughter, if she was speaking to me, would disagree.

But one thing I can say for sure is that I'm pretty certain we're done with that birthday party thing.

Now I'm just waiting for the phone calls from parents, who I'm quite sure won't think it's half as funny as their kids did. 


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