Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Orchestrating fun -- jcarolek

When I was ten years old, I had a birthday party. I had wanted one for as long as I could remember, but with six kids, raising a family on a government salary, Dad and Mom were not in the habit of “wasting” money on parties. But I wanted one. And so my mother told me I could have one, but I would have to do all the work to make it happen.

I busily made my plans. I made paper party hats. I made the list of games we would play. I made the list of friends I would invite. I made my invitations. I orchestrated that party with every ounce of me.

On my birthday, 7/11 (I was born for convenience, I do believe), I set the table with my hand fashioned placemats, party hats and party favors. Each place I labeled carefully, assigning seating as I deemed appropriate. I was literally buzzing with anticipation of the perfect party.

And then my guests arrived. They did what kids have done for generations. They ran around, screamed and carried on. They brought gifts and piled them on the table, and then turned their focus on each other, and basically, I was just another in the crowd.

I started getting mad. I had planned this day to be perfect and these guests of mine were not honoring all my hard work as I thought they ought. Well, to make a long and eventually tearful story as brief as possible, I basically ruined the party for everyone.

I never had another birthday party. I didn’t want one. Over the years I threw parties for my brothers, but always, I found I was not well suited to this event planning. I never enjoyed the results of all my hard work, because I spent so much time focusing on the “fact” that everyone else was not acting as I had planned. I eventually had to acknowledge the problem was mine. I was so intent on orchestrating a “good time” for others, I forgot that plain and simple fact that good times just happen. I can set the stage for the good times. But I must then let the players play. Thank goodness I learned this lesson before I started my own family!

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