For Kimmie's birthday this year, I decided to throw a surprise party for her at a local restaurant where she works. A reasonably simple task, I thought. But I did not plan on all the things that could go berserk.

It all started with Kimmie's friend Ashley.

I contacted Ashley through Facebook and told her about the surprise party. I asked her to call me when she got out of school. That night, I did not receive a phone call. The next morning, I found a response on Facebook from Ashley, "Surprise parties are so cool! I can't wait to see her face!"

I sent her another message telling her that I needed her help with planning. I gave her my phone number and asked her again to call me. That night, I did not receive a phone call.

The next morning, I found this reply from Ashley, "I love surprise parties! What can I do to help out?"

I decided that Ashley did not want to call me, so I sent her a message asking for a list of friends that Kimmie hung out with the most at school.

The next morning, she had responded, "This is so awesome!"

But she didn't send me any names.

I tried again. "Ashley, who does Kimmie hang out with the most at school? Also, what is your email address. I need to send the invitation to you, but I cannot attach it to a Facebook message."

By this time, I had already invited seven people who did not attend her school, and three friends from school that I knew she was especially close with.

The next morning Ashley sent me a list of ten friends, but she did not include her email address.

I tried again, "Ashley, what is your email address?" I figured if I didn't clutter up the message with any unnecessary words, then I would have a better chance at communicating my need.

Ashley messaged me back with her email address. I attached the invitation and sent it off to Ashley's email, requesting that she print it off and distribute it to the list of friends that she had mentioned to me.

It bounced back to me with an error message.

I messaged Ashley again. "My email came back to me. Can you tell me your email address again?"

Ashley did not respond.

Two days later, with Kimmie's birthday fast approaching, I looked up Ashley's phone number and called her. I got her voicemail. "Ashley, this is Missy. Please call me back about Kimmie's party. It is urgent. I tried to email the invitation to you, but it bounced back to me. What is your email address?"

Ashley did not return my phone call.

Another day passed. I reserved a table at the restaurant under the name George Brown so that Kimmie who is a hostess there would not recognize the name.

In the meantime, Kimmie decided that I had nothing extraordinary in the works for her birthday so she took matters into her own hands. At school, she cooked up some plans with a few of her friends. She did not tell me about these plans until a few days later. "My friends and I are going shopping on my birthday," she informed me as we drove home from school one afternoon less than a week before her birthday.

My mind raced. I didn't want to say no, because I had no reason prepared for them NOT to shop. "Uh, who's car are you going to use?"

"Yours!" she blithely announced.

"Oh, well, I don't know if I'll have enough gas money to run you guys around to different stores," I offered weakly.

"Don't worry about that; I'll give you gas money from my paycheck," she quickly responded.

"Hmm, who did you invite?"

She listed five girls, and I mentally scribbled their names on my brain so that I could call them later and inform them of the real plans. Every name she mentioned was already on the list that Ashley had given me. When I arrived at work the next morning, I checked my Facebook messages and my emails. No response from Ashley.

I decided to email her again. Maybe this time the invitation would go through. Then I sent her a Facebook message letting her know that I had emailed the invitation again and to please check her emails and let me know if she received it.

That afternoon she wrote back. "Cool."

Cool? Does that mean that she got the invitation, or just that she got my Facebook message about the invitation? Is she going to print it and pass it around to the girls at school? I groaned out loud, and Craig came in to see what was wrong. He laughed heartily as I lamented my communication barrier with the teenagers in my life.

Every afternoon when I picked Kimmie up from school, she announced to me a new birthday plan that she had cooked up with the girls from school. I listened in silence, wondering if any of the girls had gotten the invitations from Ashley. Then one day Kimmie informed me, "I think Ashley is planning something for my birthday. Either that or something is wrong. Because she was passing a note in class today to all of my friends, but she wouldn't pass it to me. And then I saw my name at the top of the note, and my friends all looked at me and laughed. When I asked them after class what was going on, they wouldn't let me see the note and they wouldn't tell me anything."

"Hmm," I sympathized. "You didn't have anything stuck in your teeth or in your hair, did you?"

"No, well, I don't think so."

Together we checked her teeth and hair to find a possible wayward item. I suppressed my laughter. At last I knew for sure that Ashley had gotten my invitation, and she was passing them out...during class! Not exactly what my instructions had been, but oh well!

I received a message from Ashley. "Kimmie says we are all going to the park for her birthday party. Is this true?"

I immediately emailed her back, "NO! Do not listen to ANYTHING that Kimmie says. She is planning her own party, and it has nothing to do with what is really going to happen. Spread the word!"

Kimmie's Monday birthday approached. On Saturday, Kimmie changed all of her previous plans and wanted to call all of her friends to let them know of the changes. Jeremy and I exchanged worried glances and wordlessly worked together to keep her occupied the entire day. A very sad Kimmie went to bed that night without having found any time in her day to call her friends and notify them of the change in plans.

"Oh well," she told me as she walked to her room, "I'll just have to call them all tomorrow. I've decided to invite everyone that I can think of to the park, and we'll have pizza and cake and stuff."

I panicked. Everyone she can think of???? This has got to stop!

That night, Jeremy placed his cell phone in his truck and I placed mine under our bed. We purposefully did not charge them so that we could tell Kimmie our phones were dead the next day. Several times on Sunday, Kimmie mentioned calling her friends, but she did not follow through with it.

Finally, that evening, she began searching for the phones. "My phone is not where I usually put it," I complained to her. She assumed that I did not know where it was. She had no luck finding Jeremy's phone either. I gave her free reign to search for my phone, and wouldn't you know it, the little stinker FOUND IT! She handed it to me, "Here it is! It was under your bed!"


I checked the bars. It was still charged! Another plan foiled.

I casually rested my thumb on the power button as I spoke with Kimmie, then I pretended to be startled as it shut itself down. "OH NO!" I cried out. "MY SCREEN JUST WENT BLANK!"

"Let me see," she offered.

"No, I'll see if I can fix it myself." I fiddled with the buttons while carefully keeping the keys out of her direct line of sight. I was sure she had seen me turn it off myself. "Oh well, I guess it needs to be charged."

"I'll get the charger," she offered and raced off to my bedroom to get it.

"Wait! I'll just plug it in there."

"But I wanted to use it while it was plugged in," she told me.

"Oh...well...I really want it to rest a while," I mumbled in desperation.

"What?" she questioned, but then seemed to accept that explanation. I hoped that would solve the problem. She only had a couple hours left until bedtime. When the subject came up again, Jeremy rescued me by putting his foot down. "No, it is too late to call people. You can just talk with them at school tomorrow."

Oh great! I hadn't thought about who she would be able to invite while she was at school tomorrow! I began imagining thirty high-schoolers gathered at the park waiting for Kimmie to show up, while the real party took place at the restaurant. I had to come up with a way to prevent her from inviting more people!

The next morning (her birthday!) on the way to school, she excitedly chattered about who she would invite and what presents they would probably give her and how much fun they would all have.

What do I do? What do I do?

Then brilliance struck!

"Kimmie," I said very hesitantly, "I'm kind of sad."

"What? Why?" she questioned.

"Well, because you're doing all of this planning yourself, and I really wanted to be involved in your birthday party. So I feel a little left out."

"But you are involved," she pointed out logically. "You're buying all of the food."

Oh yeah, she saved the best part for me.

"I know, but I really wanted to be part of the planning and the inviting and all that. I'm just a little sad, that's all."

"Oh." Kimmie sat back in the passenger seat and quietly watched the empty corn fields sweep behind us.

I glanced at her out of the corner of my eye. She looked so sad. Then I felt bad. I didn't want her to feel sad on her birthday!

"Well, don't feel sad, Kimmie. It's okay. But can I just ask for a favor? Since I am paying for all of this, I really can't afford to feed lots of people. Can you just invite these people?" I listed five names that I knew for sure were already coming to the restaurant party.

"Oh. Only those five?" she asked. She looked like she was about to start arguing.

"Yes, I mean, at least I will get to have a small part in the party planning by helping you choose who to invite, right?" I pretended to be a little sad still.

"Yeah, I guess so," she lapsed back into silence. "I'm sorry you didn't get to plan anything. I didn't know you wanted to."

"I know, Kimmie."

She looked so sad! I felt bad for her.

I cheered my voice up, "But I never said anything to you about it, so there's no way you could have known. Don't worry about it! Be happy! It's your birthday!!!!" Then I began singing happy birthday to her in a very off-key and crazy sort of way.

She laughed and cheered up so much that I was worried she would ignore my advice on who to invite. When I dropped her off at the school, I repeated, "Please only invite the people that we talked about, okay?"

She agreed and closed the car door. I waited until she was about five steps away from the van, then I rolled all the windows down and began singing at the top of my lungs HAPPY BIRTHDAY, KIMMIE! I honked the horn repeatedly and did not stop until she had disappeared into the building. She glanced embarrassedly at the noisy van, then ducked her head and scurried away, but not before I saw a smile tugging at her lips. Several people nearby hurried up to her and hugged her, saying "Happy Birthday!"

I grinned, the day was off to a great start!

At work, I checked my emails and found several from Kimmie's friends wondering which party was the real party. I quickly called Ashley's cell phone and left a voice mail telling her to spread the word one more time about when and where to meet. I told her to repeat to everyone to ignore ANYTHING that Kimmie said about a party. Then I prayed like crazy that we would not have any people who did not get the word!

That afternoon, I got off of work early, Jeremy took off of work, and we picked up Liberty from the babysitters. We arrived at the restaurant with decorations in hand and quickly decked out the table with kazoos and banners. One by one, her friends arrived. When Kimmie and Ashley finally pulled up, Kimmie's friend Lexi who was the hostess on duty, ran out to hug Kimmie and tell her happy birthday. Ashley ran inside while Kimmie was distracted and joined us at the table.

Kimmie and Lexi walked in the front door together, and Kimmie looked around for Ashley. When she spotted our table full of seventeen people, we all held up the HAPPY BIRTHDAY signs and began singing. She stood rooted to her spot. Finally she whispered to herself, "But, I don't understand."

Lexi hugged her and said, "It's your surprise birthday party, silly! Happy Birthday!"

Kimmie slowly began walking towards us, and she said to herself, "But, I didn't even know..."

I laughed out loud! The dumbfounded look on Kimmie's face was beyond what I had imagined, and then to watch her slowly snap out of it and begin enjoying the attention was wonderful! She did a perfect job of being the birthday girl. She told me afterwards that she had worked very hard to be sure to include everyone in the conversations and introductions. She did a great job, and I am very proud of her.

Afterwards, several of the friends headed off to the park to climb on the equipment and to take pictures. The rest of the party headed home. Jeremy, Liberty and I stayed at the restaurant to clean up, and then we drove over to the park to play for a while too. Finally, Jeremy had to return to work; he had taken only a few hours off for the party. The rest of our group broke up and went our separate ways.

All the way home, Kimmie chattered happily, and I reveled in the beautiful smile on her face. It was so much fun to surprise her!

Next time, though, I'll let her plan her own surprise's much easier that way!
2 Responses
  1. Oh my word... that is HILARIOUS! Glad everything worked out OK in the end! :-) Happy Birthday to Kimmie!

  2. DeAnn Says:

    Hee-hee! Surprise parties are fun! I planned a surprise party for Colin when he turned 30 (mostly because he told me I couldn't do anything to surprise him, he could "read me"). What fun! I had his aunt invite people to his "parent's 35th wedding anniversary party". He didn't have a clue! He didn't figure it out until he'd been there a minute of two.
    Of course that was almost 5 years ago, I'm still recovering. Surprise parties are a lot of work! Happy Birthday Kimmie!

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