Today was my long day with the girls--I pick them up at the Louvre (they have sculpture classes) at noon, and stay until their parents get home from work. This week was exciting, though, as we were to welcome 3 of C's friends for a birthday party.
I remember birthday parties when I was young. A few friends, a pretty cake, playing together. One year, it included everyone wearing costumes (I was three, and wanted to be a blue ballerina. Mom thought it wouldn't be very appropriate unless others were also dressed up, so we held a costume party in our backyard in August.) When I was 6, we went to McDonald's and had cupcakes with M&M's on them. We did often have a piñata, because my mom liked to make pinatas. (But she only had one shape, round, so we had to get creative with what a round piñata would become.)
But lately, from what I have heard from the American Moms I knew when I taught in Wisconsin, birthday parties have gotten a bit out of hand. Decorations, hired entertainment, movies, roller skating, amusement parks, road trips, expensive favors for 20 kids--it gets to be a bit much.
C's party was just the kind of party I would have had, when I was a kid. The girls started by blowing up balloons to decorate, which involved a tutorial on how to tie them shut (after 4, I figured they needed to learn). They then spent a rather large amount of time rubbing them on their heads and trying to get them to stick to the ceiling.
3 friends came over, they played with their toys and showed each other which songs they could play on the piano. They pushed the "demo" button and pretended to be virtuosi. We walked to the park, and they played "Espionage" (while I happily read my book seated on a bench). We came home, and had the typical 11-year old girl soap opera drama with 2 crying over something that seems so trivial to us adults, but is life and death when you are 11. (There is always one of these--every 5th grade teacher I know is groaning right now!)
Then C's mom came home, and we sang "Joyeuse Anniversaire" and "Happy Birthday" as C blew out candles on her cake. The cake was different, as it was a Galette des Rois, complete with the fêve and P hiding under the table to announce who got which piece. We ate our cake, crowned the queen, drank apple juice, and then decided not to save the last piece for Dad. (Sorry, Pierre. I did leave you a piece of lasagne in the fridge.)
I hope that when we return to the US, and when we have kids to celebrate on their birthdays, that we can return to the simple parties like this one, that are so much fun.
Time with friends, a little something sweet--that's enough, n'est-ce pas?