Let me clarify. Technically, I wasn’t invited; Anya was. But, it is the first time I’ve attended a Spanish Birthday Party here as a parent. Now that we’ve cleared that up, I can get into the details of the experience.
I asked Anya what I should expect. She shrugged her shoulders, rolled her eyes, and said, “It’s a birthday party, Dad”. Fair enough. Ask a stupid question, get a smart-alecky answer. I was trying to do my homework though.
We left early to make sure we arrived on time. Even though arriving late is acceptable here, it’s not how I roll. I wasn’t exactly sure where the place was, but we found it, and it turns out we were the first to arrive. Shortly after that, a mother and her son arrive, and Anya knows the kid from her class. She and I make small chit-chat. In the U.S., I am the King of Small Chit-Chat. Here in Spain, not so much. My chit-chat is very small.
Note: All of my conversations are in Spanish.
So we’re waiting, and I’m just looking around the place. If you think of one of those activity playgrounds at a McDonald’s or Burger King, that’s a fair representation of what it was like. Oh, and don’t forget those multi-colored plastic balls. Can’t forget about those. As I’m looking at all the balls, and plastic surfaces, I’m thinking…Germ Factory! Pretty much the same thing I’d be thinking in the U.S.
People are starting to arrive, and I introduce myself, and tell people that I’m Anya’s dad. The usual response is something to the effect, “Oh, I’ve heard nice things about Anya.” Once we achieve critical mass (the Birthday Girl (Irene) arrives), all the kids start running around, and the parents sit down and eating the snacks that are set out on the table. Our drink orders are placed, and shortly they arrive.
Irene’s dad (I can’t remember his name), is the only other dad there (he pretty much has to be there, right?), and he sits across from me and introduces himself. He asks if I’m English, and I tell him that we’re American. That surprises him a bit as Americans are a bit rare here, but there are Brits all over the place. I tell him we’re from North Carolina, and that we’ve lived in Almuñécar for about four months. He nods, and says the only English words he knows are parking and goodbye, but he’s fairly fluent in German.
I say (swaying my hand back-and-forth like I’m holding a beer stein), “Ein, zwei, drei…”. Everyone at the table chuckles. He asks me who I brought, and I tell him my daughter Anya. He takes a look over his shoulder, and asks the mother next to me, “Is that the girl in green?” She says yes, and then explains that we’ve only been here a short time, and that when Anya first started, she didn’t know much Spanish, but now she’s doing very well.
He’s nods his approval. Just then, Anya comes by to get a drink of water, and the father asks her, “So what do you like better, the U.S., or Spain?” She’s thinking about it, and I “whisper” to her, “Say Spain, say Spain.” We laugh, and she goes back to playing.
At this point, the moms are having a discussion about some gossip at the school, and other school goings-on. This goes on for awhile, and my mind wanders, and I’m thinking that you could see this same scenario (parents talking at a birthday party, kids screaming and running around, etc.) in the U.S.
After further discussion, some further snacks are brought out. The father, and mothers ask me if I would like some. And here’s where my mastery of Spanish let me down. I was not hungry, so I said, “No tengo hombre.” (I don’t have a man.). All at the same time, the three parents who heard me said, “hambre” (hunger). “Ahhhh. No tengo HAMBRE.” We all had a good chuckle at that goof.
It’s finally time for the kids to sit around the table and have the real party. The kids are excited, and they sing the normal Happy Birthday song (in Spanish), and they bring out the cake and the presents. It’s odd that they open all the presents there, but I guess that’s just the way things are done. As always, the kids are sent home with little gift bags. Anya and I say our thank you’s and goodbyes, and make our way home.
I survived my first birthday party. Whew!