Super K. and I amble into the hall the family has rented and transformed into a riot of color and cheerful chaos. We aren't early in the slightest, but they are still setting up. Putting up 5 candy stations, a buffet, 7 tables with handmade balloon centerpieces, a cake tower under a rainbow made out of balloons and flowers, a gift table, 3 ball pits, a tumbling ramp, and a life-size, climbable cow statue does take time. It is all My Little Pony themed (minus the cow), which we should have figured out from the singing invitation, an emailed slideshow with the birthday girl's face superimposed onto the likes of Pinkie Pie and Rainbow Dash. Super K. is quicker than I am, so he picked all of her gifts out of the My Little Pony aisle at the toy store, which was a riot of a whole other kind, mostly related to shopping in December. That's another story that I am still too traumatized to tell, but point is, we are well-equipped for this party, gift-wise at least.
We don't know anyone, except the birthday girl and her parents, who are understandably busy, so we stand around awkwardly in the doorway. It's what we do best anyway. Adorable Kindergartener (the birthday girl) rushes over, grabs Super K.'s hand, and they run off to climb the cow. Never did figure out how the cow related to things, but I have plenty of time to ponder this as I continue to stand awkwardly in the doorway, clutching a crooked Pinkie Pie gift bag in front of me like a shield.
Adorable K.'s mom comes over to welcome me; this is gracious but complicated by the fact that she speaks very little English and I speak very little Spanish. Shamefully and despite 4 years of high school study, my Spanish continues to hover around requests for the bathroom and declarations that the empanadas are delicious. I understand more than I am willing to try to say because my accent in horrible and embarrassing, so I am aware of the lovely things she is saying to me. I just can't really respond more than nodding and smiling a lot. She talks to me very slowly and clearly, probably because I am just nodding and smiling like an idiot, but it helps with my understanding so I go with it. She floats off to prepare for the interpretive dance act (more on that later), and I resume standing awkwardly by the door, letting the waves of happy conversation wash and flow around me. I am acutely aware of how lame and out of place I look amid all these vibrant Chilean women, laughing and looking fabulous. I wish I was way less white and lame; clear would be nice. Then I could be invisible. I can NOT wait to leave.
A song starts and Adorable K. and her cousins drag Super K. out onto the dance floor. He looks like I feel. He has no idea what is going on and what is expected of him; I can see the tears in his eyes from here. Super K. doesn't like attention on a good day; he won't sing in front of people he doesn't know. He hides behind me when we are in crowds. He recently refused to do the Christmas pageant because "people might look" at him. He is rather shy; he takes time to warm up and he has a healthy dose of my socially anxious genes. It appears that the song contains directions about what dance step to do next. They are, naturally, in Spanish. If there is one thing Super K. hates more than people hearing him sing, it is people watching him dance. He looks like he is going to throw up. They begin to dance in a circle; slow, then fast. Hopping on one foot, then going backwards. Holding hands, then spinning around. I am getting dizzy just watching it and I am fighting everything in me that wants to swoop in there and carry my child, and probably myself, to familiar safety. I am debating just grabbing him, when I see Adorable K. turn to Super K. and smile. He smiles back. He still doesn't know the steps, but he does them. Just a hair behind everyone else and with a slight shrug, like "OK, well, so I look silly. So what?" There is some move where they all lie on the floor and the children start to roll around into each other. Super K. laughs a little. Then he laughs a lot. Then they all hop up and bounce over to gorge on cookies and cotton candy at a table guarded by the smiling visage of Twilight Sparkle. The dance is over, but I can't quite get it out of my head. The tune was quite catchy, but I think you know that isn't what I am talking about.
Super K. feels out of place, I know he does. He can't understand what anyone is saying. Everything around him is wild and loud and new. He doesn't know what he is supposed to do or say. What a frightening experience for anyone, let alone someone who is 5 and kinda shy. And yet, he just gives in to it. I can see him feeling all his feelings over there and still standing next to his friend with a willingness to try. "OK, so I don't get this. Well, maybe if I stick it out, I will. Or someone nice will explain it to me. Either way, look; Cookies!" I actually watch and see the exact moment when he shrugs and just goes for it. Allows himself to look silly and out of place. Allows himself to laugh and have fun despite having no clue what this fun is. Allows himself to just let go of all that control we delude ourselves into thinking that we have. He is 5 years old and has the wisdom to just let go and open himself up to a new experience. I am 35 and hugging the door frame like an idiot.
So I let go of the door frame. I let go. I put my shield/gift in the gift pile, pick up a cookie, and talk to the next person I see, in my broken Spanish with a comment about the extrano vaca in the middle of the room. She laughs and says, in perfect English, that I am right, that cow is totally weird.
We have a lovely time. There is a magician, a fire act that lights the cake's candles, a Pinkie Pie pinata that Super K. refuses to hit, and the aforementioned interpretive dance act that involves the birthday girl using a wand to bring to life My Little Pony shaped balloon animals that her uncles have mounted on remote control cars, while her mother throws glitter on everything in sight. The party ends in a carnival-like dance with everyone whirling crazily on the dance floor around the weird vaca; myself and Super K. included. Just letting go of everything but each other.
I don't have any pictures from the My Little Pony party or of the weird cow,
so here is a picture of Super K., my mom, and her caballo instead.
He is no my little pony, but he is just as magical and wonderful.