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Kid Questions: Double Booked Birthday


Hello Rene,

It’s my grandmother’s 80th birthday next month and my parents have planned a big surprise party for her, which all the family will be attending.

The problem is that it’s my best friend Casey’s Sweet Sixteen on the same night and she’s planning this big party at a club in town.

My family wants me to go to my grandmother’s party – but she lives 100 miles away and if I go I’ll miss Casey’s event.

We’ve got into a lot of arguments, but we’ve now reached a point where my parents have said I can do whatever I like.

I want to go to my friend’s party but if I do I’ll never hear the end of it from my family.

What would your advice be Rene?


Sarah, New Jersey


Hi Sarah:

Glad you wrote. Just today I was having a discussion with my daughter on the way to the mall. I told her that even though you think we’re all old, wrinkly and out of touch, we have been where you are before. We know the tricks you try to pull and the dilemmas you face. We learned from them and now can see problems from both sides, like this one. I’ll give you my advice but first, a couple of questions.

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU SAW GRANDMA? You said she lives 100 miles away so I’ll bet it’s been a while.  You see Casey and her friends everyday at school and while I know this is special because Casey will only turn 16 once, the fact is there will be another party for another friend who turns 16 that you can go to. And not to be morbid but Grandma is 80 and hopefully in good health but she won’t be around forever. You’ll probably have many more years with your other teenage friends.

GRANDMA WILL APPRECIATE THIS FAR MORE THAN CASEY: You will be one of many faces at Casey’s party. You’ll be an important one as you are best friends but you know how this goes. Trust me when I say this and it is not to be mean but merely the truth. If you don’t show up to Casey’s party, she’ll be bummed but not heartbroken. If you choose Casey over grandma that is exactly what will happen to grandma.

WHAT DID CASEY GET FOR YOU ON YOUR LAST BIRTHDAY? Do you remember? Grandma who lives on a fixed income more than likely, saved her pennies to scrape together enough money to buy you an iTunes gift card or a couple of great shirts from Delia’s.  It meant a lot to her and a lot to you. All she wants in exchange is for you to spend an evening with her on her special day. It is not asking too much.

IF CASEY IS TRULY YOUR BEST FRIEND, SHE WILL UNDERSTAND: In fact you shouldn’t even have to explain to her the choice you ARE MAKING (not being forced to make). If she does not get it, it’s time for you to take a harder look at your friendship and what it’s about.

So my recommendation to you is that you go but don’t you dare drag your feet, mumble about being forced to be there and sit in a corner with your arms crossed all night. You should go and be in the moment, laugh and love grandma, listen to her stories, even if you’ve heard them a thousand times before, be at her beck and call and help her enjoy the evening that is about celebrating the joy she has given to others in her 80 years on the planet. I can tell you this for certain, if you choose Casey over grandma, you will regret it, maybe not right away, but you will.  Think about it.

Good luck Sarah.

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  1. Alex Guzman

    March 6, 2011 at 11:47 am

    Maybe Sarah and Casey can do something before her birthday together and make it something special just for the two of you. That way you can celebrate Casey’s birthday then go to Grandma’s party too

  2. keith

    March 6, 2011 at 12:04 pm

    The blunt version…because thats what I do…Im “TooBlunt2BAFather”

    As someone that went to many, many, many parties…mostly uninvited I may add:

    Nothing at that party will take place that will make up for the guilt you will feel and will be forced upon you by your family if you do not go. This is a one of those things parents due to check your maturity level; my apologies to your parents if they read this but they know Im right. If you choose Grandma, you will hang out, have a good time, and your parents will be able to say and feel like they raised you right. And odds are, the very next thing you ask for you will get, probably 10x fold.

    If you choose your friend’s party, nothing will go as planned. The party will suck, and you will spend the whole night thinking “I should have just went to Grandma’s” and most importantly “Now I get to listen to a bunch of crap about coming her, and I had a bad time.” You wont be able to complain to your parents that you had a bad time, because you just spent weeks fighting and arguing over getting to go.

    Notice I did not mention your Grandma and her feelings. I didnt because her feelings do not seem to matter to you currently. If they did, then this wouldnt be a dilemma: You have already chosen your friend over your grandmother. And I dont necessarily think thats such a bad thing.

    Whatever you do, please dont ask your grandmother if its ok to go to your friend’s party. That will look 100 times worse.

    Life is about choices and picking the one with the better win. Sometimes that win pays off in the future, and sometimes its for someone else. If you pick your Grandmother’s party, she is happy, your parents are happy, which will make you happy down the road. Plus, you may actually have fun *gasp*.

    I grew up with sisters. Your friend will not notice you didnt show up when there are 100 other people there. And if you do show up, she still has to spend time with 100 other people. You wont have anywhere near as good a time as you think (as an adult you will find that happens more and more btw, heads up). And then you get to go home and have people “disappointed” in you. Nothing short of Unicorn rides to and from the club will ever make up for having to listen to how you chose your friend over your grandma “that one time when you were a teenager.”

    Go to grandma’s.

  3. keith

    March 6, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Come to think of it, if there are unicorn rides to and from the club, can have your invitation to Casey’s party? I will hang out with her dad or hook up an xbox on a big screen or something.

    Im joking…kinda

  4. Rene Syler

    March 6, 2011 at 12:14 pm

    OMG this is GREAT! Thanks Keith.. perfect, perfect, perfect advice!!

  5. Peppercorn16

    March 6, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    I know Sarah feels a party for your her 80 yr old grandmother is boring compared to a sweet sixteen birthday party. But what Sarah needs to realize is that family comes first and that this may very well be her grandmother’s last birthday. Sarah’s friends will have other parties that she’s going to want to attend. So she should attend her grandmother’s party it not only will make her grandmother proud but it will make her parents proud. It’ll also may make it easy for her to attend her friends parties in the future.
    I hope Sarah attends her grandmother’s 80th b-day later in life when she’s older she’ll be glad she did so

    Sarah is blessed to have a grandmother celebrating her 80th b-day. I envy anyone who has a grandmother.

  6. Rich

    March 6, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    My cousin was faced with this very choice… and chose her friend’s party!

  7. Peppercorn16

    March 6, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    There is a such thing as bad karma and if Sarah is selfish and attend her friend’s party she may have the worse time ever. I mean it happens all the time she’s all ready to go to her friend’s sweet sixteen party because she thinks it will be more fun and it could turn out to be not so sweet but sour as sour can be. If Sarah has a boyfriend what if the boyfriend show’s up with another girl or flirts with other girls @ the party? What if she and her bff fight the whole time during the party. And at her grandmother’s party it’s the best and she missed it all all because she just had to attend her friend’s party << the party that was a total bore or a nightmare. I know we girls only have one sweet sixteen party but having a 80th b-day is far more important to celebrate it's a milestone. And when your 16 you hope to live to have a 80th b-day with family

  8. Stephanie Smothers

    April 14, 2011 at 8:08 pm

    Hey I have 4 …. 17 year old here and was reading this to them…. they all came to the conclusion to go to grandmas… My daughter said she can do something with here the night before or go stay the night with her… One said if she a really good friend she would understand….. the other said no grandma might not make it to the next year and go to grandma …the other said tell your friend to video the exciting stuff…. oh my I never thought I would have this reaction from these girls who think they should all ways hang out together….Thanks Rene its time now to send them all home… Dallas

  9. Rene Syler

    April 14, 2011 at 8:10 pm

    @Stephanie: LOL I LOVE that! Great kids!!

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