Planning a Sweet 16 is a huge undertaking, but it will all be worth it in the end.
Sweet 16: I took Kasey to nine stores over the course of six Saturdays before she found The Dress. These outings were always accompanied by Kasey’s BFF, Molly, who would buzz around fishing out about a dozen dresses she thought Kasey would like. Kasey wound up trying on eight to 10 of Molly’s dozen at each of the stores, so you do the math. At the end of each exhausting expedition, the three of us were hungry, and given Molly’s undying patience, I felt the least I could do was treat her to the diner. I spent I don’t know how much on diner meals capping off fruitless dress searches, listening to the girls discuss high-level matters (should the boyfriends of Kasey’s friends get their own invitations?). We finally secured The Dress at a shop 50 minutes away, and Kasey needed not one, not two, but three fittings at this far-flung locale.
Wedding: The best man gave a short, nice speech. The End.
Sweet 16: The candle ceremony, during which the birthday girl recites a short poem in honor of each important person in her life, has more moving parts than 16 candles (Sorry. 17. I kept forgetting the one for good luck). Kasey decided on floating candles, so there were canisters of varying heights. Don’t even ask about the water. A specially decorated candle lighter was needed, as was her name spelled out in big sparkling letters in front of the candles.
Then there was the matter of drafting 17 poems that not only (obviously) rhymed, but suitably encapsulated Kasey’s history with and feelings for that person, yet wouldn’t take longer than 45 seconds to recite. One candle had two people attached to it (her Girl Scout co-leaders), so that poem alone took an entire evening to craft. Then the DJ reminded us that Kasey needed to pick a song snippet for him to play as each person was called up. Seventeen song snippets that suitably encapsulated Kasey’s history with and feelings for that person (or Girl Scout co-leaders). And I had a few issues with her list of honorees. (“You can not give a candle to Aunt Donna but not Aunt Lindsey. I will never hear the end of it! And are you sure you don’t want to give a candle to Olivia? She has been your friend since preschool. And we invited her parents! In what world is it okay for Olivia’s parents to sit there and see Olivia is not getting a candle when girls you have known one-fifth as long, whose parents I never even met, are?”) It was not my finest moment. There were tears. Poem drafts were ceremoniously ripped in half.
I asked one sympathetic veteran mom, “Please tell me it will be worth it?!” She said it would be when I saw how happy Kasey was. She was right. My Kasey was beaming all night long. The restrained, quiet, hard-to-read teen was gone, replaced by a silly, laughing girl, clapping, spinning, and jumping up and down, and not just on the dance floor. The last candle lit that night was for me. Kasey said she saved the best for last, and thanked me far more eloquently than I had ever heard her speak. The feeling I couldn’t shake in the weeks running up to the big day, that I had done ALL THIS and she wouldn’t appreciate it, was unfounded. My song snippet was from “Wind Beneath My Wings:” It might have appeared to go unnoticed; But I've got it all here in my heart; I want you to know I know the truth, of course I know it; I would be nothing without you.
Now I’m among the veterans. Molly’s Sweet is up next. Kasey’s been running around with her dress shopping (payback is...well, you know). Her mom asked if she could use our floating candle canisters. When I dropped them off, she said, “This is a lot!” I said, “Yep...Let me know how I can help. But it will all be worth it.”