I got schooled on another one of your American traditions last week.
The kid birthday party phenomenon .
It's an amazing thing. It works like this: All of the parents that have kids, more or less the same age, get together and socialize together while ignoring their children for hours at a time.
It sounds crazy... but it works. It's because all of the Mommies and Daddies already know each other. They've been friends forever, except that now they never get to see each other. Why? Because of us.. their children. So everytime that there is a birthday for one of the kids... they all jump into action and get together to "celebrate the child's birthday"... but we know better. They're there to socialize with each other... period.
In this case, the excuse... I mean the birthday boy was named Austin and he had a costume birthday party at this really cool place that was full of these amazing structures filled with air. I've never seen anything like it. They were huge and tall like sky scrapers and they were all different colors and shapes. Daddy says that they are called Bounce Houses and he says that they are very common in this country. It works differently in Colombia. Where I'm from... when it's your birthday they take you into the bedroom and tell you to jump on the bed. The bed is in your house... there's your bounce house. Congratulations, have a piece of cake.
Austin's Daddy, Uncle Oscar, took me into the bounce house because Daddy was not allowed by the management to enter with me because he wasn't wearing socks. Daddy tried to explain that he was wearing sandals that day and that he didn't know the rules, but the manager told him that he could not enter a bounce house without socks for reasons of hygene. Daddy said that someone should explain these intricate hygene rules to the 4 year old who was currently peeing down the bouncy slide at the back end of the room.
Another thing that I noticed about these Kid Parties is the food. There's pizza and cake and soft drinks and chips and cookies. But the kids don't eat it. They're too busy running around in the bounce houses to even stop and think about food. We can eat later. The bounce houses will only be available for the next 3 hours!
So who gets to eat all of this junk food? The parents! They sit around gossiping and laughing with each other while shoving pizza down their throat and drinking diet softdrinks from tiny paper cups with Dora The Explorer on them.
After about 2 hours on the bounce house I was ready for a nap. My friend Mia told me that I was the best play date that she had ever had. That made me feel good because I know that her Mommy and Daddy are really good friends with my Mommy and Daddy. So that means that we'll probably be seeing a lot more of each other everytime we get together to "celebrate another child's birthday".
In the end, I guess it ends up as a win-win situation for everybody involved. The kids get to run around and play together... the parents get to see each other and hang out together... and the birthday boy or girl ends up with a boat-load of presents and a day to remember. As a matter of fact... the birthday boy, Austin, was so busy running around in his little Indiana Jones costume that I didn't even get to take a picture with him.
But that's Okay. I got to take lots of pictures with the real guests of honor at this party... the parents.