Monday, May 20, 2013

The Piñata

This is not my first time at the rodeo.  I have done many birthdays.  I have learned that the bigger and more over the top the birthday - the less everyone, especially the birthday kid, enjoys it.  Too overwhelming.  Simple, sweet, small works best for us.  I am not a cranky, overworked host and the kid can just have fun.

With that in mind we planned the five year olds 'big' day.  Her birthday is on Cinco de Mayo and so the shops are always filled with vividly colored Mexican decorations at this time of year.  The five year old was very clear - she wanted only one thing for her birthday - a piñata.

I decided to be authentic to we drove to our local Mexican neighborhood to shop at an authentic La Bodega.  Suspended from the roof of the store were many piñatas.  Elmo, Hello Kitty, Spongebob - they were all there.  I felt a little pride when my girl strode past them and pointed to a traditional burro piñata.  

"That one, can I have that one?" she asked sweetly.  

We pulled it down from it's hook and she carried it proudly to the register.   Fiesta (as she was now named) sat, held tightly, on the five year old's lap all the way home.  She was given pride of place in the five year old's bedroom, waiting for her big day.

When the day finally arrived, together we packed Fiesta full of treats and found the piñata rope and stick. We made cupcakes and iced them.  We packed them and some snacks for her little friends.  We dressed in our party finery and I started to load the car. I am pretty sure I was wearing a look of smug self satisfaction that said "I know just how to handle this kid party thing."  When I came back into the house I was met by the five year old sitting at the table with tears pouring down her face.   She was chewing her lip trying to hold the tears back but they rolled down anyway.

"I don't want Fiesta to get bashed open," she sobbed.  "I want to keep her, like a pet.  She's too precious."   

Screeeeech.  The brakes on the easy going birthday party are slammed on.

My sweet hearted girl cried for a full ten minutes, clutching her cardboard donkey. She stroked it's tissue paper skin and stared into it's sticker eyes.
I stood there, thinking about our waiting guests.  I offered to remove the treats and just hand them out leaving Fiesta intact.  I offered to get another Fiesta so she could have one to keep.  The tears rolled on.
I watched the clock tick relentlessly. 

"We need to decide what to do - we have to go sweets..."

Tears still pouring, she was immovable.  None of my presented solutions were appealing.  All she wanted to do was to sit at the table clutching her cardboard pal.  Any hint of smugness I had felt was long lost and instead I felt like rookie mom, with no idea of what to do.

"Let's take a photo of you and Fiesta for you to keep."  Her face brightened.  She wiped her tears and turned Fiesta to the camera.  Two pictures later she jumped down from the table and ran out to the car.

"Come on mama, we're late!"

Cut to one hour later when my big hearted girl was pounding Fiesta to a pulp with a big wooden stick.
A photograph, the difference between heartbreak and joy.  Who knew?
Parenting - the never ending lesson in trial, error and surprise redemption.

1 comment:

  1. Atta girls! (parent, and pinata-busting 5 year old)


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