Bilingual is Better

 

I love summers! Both Vanessa and Santiago were born in the summer (and so was I, even though I was born in February, since Peru is in the southern hemisphere) which means two birthday parties for us!

As I mentioned last week, we celebrated my daughter’s 5th party in our backyard last Sunday. I’m not going to lie and say these are easy because they are actually a TON of work. And, even though, it’s basically non-stop from the moment we wake up the day of a birthday party and it all feels like a whirlwind once it’s said and done, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Vanessa was very specific about what she wanted for this birthday party: PRINCESAS! Luckily, it was easy to oblige. (Unlike two years ago when she wanted a Toy Story birthday – before movie #3 came out – and I had such a hard time finding decorations and such). My little princess was also very clear about the fact that she wanted a clown who painted faces as entertainment. I was hoping I’d be able to get a bilingual or Spanish speaking one, but then Vanessa was also very assertive as to the guest list and she asked to invite her friends from preK, all of which are monolingual, making my life that much easier (there’s a lot more English-speaking clowns!).

However, this also meant inviting kids (and their parents) who most probably had never experienced a bicultural birthday celebration. I really didn’t worry too much about this because it’s not like our parties are that different… But then, as 1:10 p.m. turned into 1:20 p.m. and the only guests were Vanessa’s friend from preK and her mom – the original invite was for 1 p.m. – it dawned on me that bicultural birthday parties can be very different.

In fact, the clown – whom I had asked to come 30 minutes after the (supposed) start of the party – had to switch things around when she realized there weren’t enough children at the party for her to do her show at the beginning and opted for painting the faces of those in attendance instead. It all worked out in the end, but I guess punctuality is not one of those things most Latinos are known for.

Our kids’ birthday parties are not just for the little ones. For us, it’s a celebration of a loved one’s life and besides making sure the children are having fun, we ensure the adults are having a good time too. Translation = there’s lots of food and drinks for all. Our birthday parties are also loud, lively, festive and musical. I wasn’t sure how much the mom of Vanessa’s friend from preK had been exposed to this craziness, so I found myself kind of apologizing for it, even though she seemed to be having fun soaking it all in.

My mom had promised she’d make her famous Pisco Sours to please one of my Peruvian friends. And so while the kids were busy laughing at the clown’s antics, we were all busy cheering my mom’s masterpiece! By this time, it was way after 4 p.m. (the supposed end of the party – although I’ve never understood this American practice) and we still had to cut the cake, sing all the versions of the “birthday song” representing all of my household’s cultures, and let the kids whack the ginormous piñata Vanessa had chosen.

Needless to say, by the time it was all said and done it was about 10 p.m. Not everyone stayed that late, of course, but the last guests probably left after 9 p.m. There was a second round of food put on the grill and plenty of drinks for everyone! The only bad thing about it was that we all had to go to work the next morning!

The next day I got an email from the mother of Vanessa’s preK friend thanking me for such a wonderful party and explaining how her daughter was still talking about her first piñata party and how much fun she’d had. I couldn’t help but think that all the work was absolutely worth it!

A Window into Bicultural Birthdays

BICULTURAL BIRTHDAYS CELEBRATIONWe’re going to spend all week talking about this topic with guests posts from a varied group of amazing moms (and amigas!) raising bicultural and bilingual children. You’ll probably identify with at least one of these essays and if not, we’d love to hear your own story about bicultural birthdays!

Here’s what you can expect the rest of the week:

  • Tuesday: Dariela of Mami Talks reminisces about birthdays in her native Venezuela and how they differ from her parties here
  • Wednesday: Amy of Habla Blah Blah and contributor extraordinaire of our ongoing series “An Immersion Adventure in Mexico” gives us a hilarious account of her impressions of Mexican birthday celebrations
  • Thursday: Maria of Mommylogue exposes us to a whole new set of birthday traditions from la madre patria, Spain
  • Friday: Melanie of ModernMami shares how she blends in birthday traditions from her native Puerto Rico

And, because no birthday would be a real celebration without regalitos, don’t miss out on the big giveaways we’ll have going on all week in honor of cumpleaños Latino-style! ¡Qué lo disfruten!

Share:  What are the special traditions in your birthday celebrations?

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