Friday, March 12, 2010

Birthday preparations and Behavior Study

Last Saturday we attended a birthday party for one of Brodie's class mates named Alicia. Before then we had only spoken a handful of times to her parents who are very nice as well as to the lady that usually walks Alicia to and from school. The party was hosted at a place right around the corner from us called "En un Lugar en Chamberi" (loosely translates to "Some Place in Chamberi") Trust me I've more than once joked that I couldn't remember the name of the place but that it was "someplace in Chamberi", cracking up no one but myself, I'll add. Anyway, it's fairly small, but it's basically an indoor bouncy house with a ball bouncy area and a couple of slides. Off to the side there's another small room for toddlers and where kids can do crafts, they'll paint your face and make balloons. Needless to say Brodie had a fantastic time and we enjoyed getting to know some parents in the upstairs area where we could overlook the craziness. Pretty quickly, though, I realized that we were the only family from Brodie's school. Carmen (Alicia's mom) said that she didn't know any of the other moms and that I was the only one that she had ever really spoken to. I was stunned. I've been disappointed at the lack of parent involvement/opportunity to get to know one another, but I assumed that all the Spanish moms knew each other and were getting together frequently for sangria happy hours. I mentioned my disappointment in not knowing other families and she said "we Spanish are "cerrados" (closed) and we don't talk to someone unless we're spoken to first." Hmmm....duly noted. With this piece of information and the discovery of someplace in Chamberi (I can't remember the name) we decided right there to host a birthday party for Brodie! As fun as planning this party has been, it hasn't been without its hiccups and stresses. Under normal circumstances I would have insisted on inviting all 25 classmates to the party because I had no way of discreetly getting in touch with just a few of the moms and the last thing I wanted to do was create a situation where feelings were hurt. However, our party spot is not cheap and let's just say that for for the cost of inviting all 25 friends (plus 3 that don't attend her school) we could pay for a weekend getaway EASILY. At first I was adamant, but then Touria whipped out her iPhone and showed me the number, so that's when we decided to have Brodie list out who she wanted to invite from school. Fortunately or unfortunately she really did only want to invite about 8 kids from school. It felt wrong to not force her to be inclusive, but again we were glad she was able to narrow it down so easily and as Kyle pointed out, she's been in school almost 5 months and only been invited to one birthday party, so we're guessing it's acceptable to only invite closest friends. On Monday I bought invitations and the plan was that I would arrive early to pick up Brodie and then she would point out the friends we agreed to invite and DISCREETLY hand the parent an invitation during pick up. If only things had gone as smoothly as it had in my head. The minute she saw the pink envelopes she was jumping and waving them around and then yelling out to her friends!! ARGH!! If this were a movie we would have been in slow motion with a spotlight beaming on us and an exaggerated look of pain on my face. I felt terrible! Long story short, they got handed out and we ended up inviting one more little boy that wasn't on the original list. I'll never make that mistake again. Four year olds just do not understand the concept of discretion! But since then, all the parents of invited children have been strikingly chatty and friendly. Parents who never, ever even said hello now wave AND say hello. I think this confirms Carmen's assessment of Spanish culture. Maybe it's a generalization, but since handing out those little pink envelopes everyone has been way friendlier and almost in a relieved way. Like, ok, we've spoken, the seal has broken and now I can be friendly and you won't think I'm a weirdo! Anyway, every child invited is attending and today I start the cupcakes. Updates to follow. Posted is a photo of Brodie and Alicia at last weekend's birthday party.

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