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
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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