So, while my fabulous friends in NYC are spending their Saturday shopping and getting seaweed wraps, my new weekend activity is going to strange childrens’ birthday parties. Most recently, my kindergartner got invited to a little boy’s party who has recently moved here from China, Patrick Wong. The only thing I had ever heard about this particular child is that he struggled with a thick accent and repeatedly called my son Michael, “Mickey.” My son, misunderstanding his friend’s poor control of the English language was perturbed.
“He calls me Mickey all the time, so I call him Mickey now and I told everyone. Now the whole class calls him Mickey.”
We probably should have tried to explain the situation, but instead my husband and I just fell off our chairs laughing. Fast forward two months and imagine my surprise when a birthday invitation arrives for a Saturday afternoon party at Patrick’s house. I had visions of spending an afternoon sitting through 3 hours of Chinese birthday rituals.
“I’m just going to throw this in the garbage.” I whispered to my husband gesturing to the card.
“Absolutely not.” he said. Ugh, my husband the “do-gooder”suggested that other kids in the class might talk about the party and then he would feel bad.
“Well of course I’m not leaving him at some strange house where nobody speaks a lick of English!” I countered. “Fine – so stay there with him.” he replied simply.
I called to RSVP and tell “Mickey’s” mother who I am and the purpose for my call and realized quickly that there is a huge language barrier. She started yelling “OK, so yes or no?”
“What?” I said.
“Yes or no?” she yells louder.
“Yes!” Now I’m yelling….”But I’m staying!!” “Michael, plus one!!”
So off we go to the party and we are greeted at the door by 8 shrieking Chinese children, Patrick and his mom. “Hi -Ok you take off boot and wear slipper.”
Ok – so as my son runs off with the shrieking children into the basement to see the pet bunnies??? I venture into the living room in this woman’s well-worn slippers, where there is what seems to be a Chinese version of American Idol blasting on a flat screen tv. Patrick’s mother is in the kitchen and I frantically start taking pictures of my slipper feet with my phone and sending them to my husband with death threats.
After about 30 minutes of small talk and the arrival of one other mother it becomes clear nobody is coming. “I invite 13 and if I they don’t call me I think its ok.” Patrick’s mother said as she peered out the window.
OMG! Thank God for my husband!! I guess all the other mothers threw out the invite and didn’t have a do-gooder near them to stop them! This was beyond horrible. So I stayed for the next 2 hours watching the kids run wild through the house throwing paper airplanes and playing with huge stuffed tigers that looked like they came straight out the Sigfreid and Roy show. (Which as a sidenote was a good lesson for people like myself that spend $500 on their children’s birthday parties. These children were as happy with the tiger and paper as they would be with a clown and bouncy house.)
It wasn’t too bad, especially after I noticed the other mother didn’t have slippers on and I kicked mine off and slipped them under the couch. A couple hours of my life I will never get back, but well worth it to “Mickey” and his mother.