There’s a lot of firsts this summer. My family’s first garden, my youngest’s first sleepover, my family’s first time floating on a mountain river and our first time to host an 80’s party.
A few summers ago, my oldest asked if we could have a party. Not just a regular old party with friends but a themed party where everyone dressed in costume. At the time he was really into Greek Mythology, thanks to Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson novels. The date also happened to be the summer solstice, so essentially we had a family-friendly toga party.
Last year we decided to have our themed party on July 7. In case you didn’t know, July 7 happens to be Ringo Starr’s birthday, which is a great excuse for a summer-themed party, if you have a certain pre-teen Beatles fan in your home.
Unsurprisingly, when I asked my oldest what he wanted to do most this summer, his reply…a party. He wasn’t sure on a theme though. I turned to the trusty old Google machine and looked up historic events on his proposed date, July 12th. There wasn’t much that excited me or my son. In 1954 President Eisenhower put forward a plan for an interstate highway system – I mean that’s pretty awesome if you’ve ever driven a family of five anywhere! In 1976 the first “Family Feud” game show made its debut. But none of these seemed to interest my 11-year-old son.
Then the light bulb went off – what about the day after, which would be Friday, July 13th?!
My immediate thought, having been his age during the 1980’s, was Jason, Freddie, Chucky – how about an 80s party! Of course with younger children, we wouldn’t make it scary. But the scary trio from the 1980’s were my muses.
The five days leading up to the party, my son requested that we not listen to any music past 1989. That wasn’t such a difficult task for us, but there are some B-side gems out there that we’ve all forgotten about, that will make you question your entire childhood. We also prepped by watching lots of music videos, which can only be found on YouTube. Remember music videos? Is there still a channel for that?
There’s a lot to a decade, ten years to be precise. Movies, music, cultural events, historic events – some I vividly remember – the Berlin Wall, Mary Lou Retton, unmarked “white vans”, the 1984 New Orleans World Fair…so many uplifting moments. But as an adult, I know now some of the negative moments during that decade, that I was too young to comprehend, or were glossed over by childhood memories. I know my children will look back to the decade of their youth and learn of the negative and troublesome events – my oldest is already much too aware. As parents, at some point, we have to have those conversations about the world around us and do our best to let our children develop their own opinions and thoughts about current events. My husband and I are proud that our oldest son is not only tuned in but also shows compassion to what is happening in the world around us.
But you know, sometimes, with all the chaos in the world, and our own parental responsibilities, jobs, boards, PTOs, IEPs, bills, etc…it’s nice to escape to our youth, with our own youth, and Fight for Your Right to Party.