This past weekend made us 1-for-2 on attending international birthday parties. Two Sunday’s ago we were skunked on our car rental meaning no party for the children. Which was exceptionally awful considering we had rented helmets and purchased sleds for the kiddos. Though I should be saying sledging as that is how the Swiss refer to it. Of course, watching Hendrick rocket down a hill on a plastic disc – trying to crash into his friends no doubt – is not exactly what I would imagine as a stress-free afternoon so perhaps it was for the best.
We had better luck this past Sunday since we needed only ride the train 1 stop and walk to our destination in La Tour De Peilz. The birthday girl’s parents did a great job on the party site. Basically a room with some tables and a snugly closed door meant the pack of 4 year old asylum patients were completely contained and ready to bounce off the walls while the parents sipped wine and chatted.
It was a strange déjà vu moment for me. 16 odd years ago, I was spending a college semester in Budapest taking in the culture and, uh, studying. We had an apartment that was also basically a room with some tables and a pack of wild inmates. Only in this hazy memory, there were no parents present and the wine being consumed was by the bottle instead of by the Dixie cup. I don’t recall if it was a birthday party but we did play games and certainly bounced off the walls.
Sunday’s party was quite a sight for Sarah and me. There were no fewer than 4 languages being spoken constantly – French, Spanish, Italian and English. The father of the birthday girl explained the “gift passing game” to the kids in at least 3 of those. Several of the party attendees are spoken to – at home – in one language by their mother, another by their father and a third at school. The absolute mayhem of fifteen-ish 3 and 4 year olds running around a room, fueled by sugar and excitement, was magnified by the cacophony of all these languages being thrown around. I doubt this is the scene described in Wikipedia when you look up “language immersion” but it should be.