Sam’s party

Sam’s party
Originally uploaded by Liz Henry.

Salmon and satay and pizza and fruit and asparagus and two kinds of cake… a bouncy house, a trampoline, a musician, teenagers making balloon animals. It was mayhem, but not completely wild like last year’s party!

I’ve been to some wild kids’ parties. How could I ever forget Artur’s 3rd… or 2nd… birthday where the stereo was blasting the latest Peaches album? The kids were all dancing to the song “F*ck the Pain Away” and Artur’s dad was saying with a mad giggle, “They can’t understand the lyrics, it doesn’t matter!” I’m pretty sure they were mostly under 2 years old because it was mildly perturbing and funny, not completely horrifying and un-funny as it might have been if they had been older.

Anyway, Sam’s parties are a blast. Other moms at the party were still twittering about last year’s party to each other – they had a pony, and a parrot lady with parrots, and a magician, and an animal person with animals and a bouncy house and and and…. phew! I enjoyed the feeling of excess, I have to admit. I like Sam’s parents because they’re always kind of intense and spaced out at the same time.

I didn’t get to talk to Sam but I have always thought him an interesting kid. I first met him in a neighborhood park. He was 18 months old and walked up to ask what our names were and if he could share our cheerios. When he was three and still in diapers, he informed me that he was planning on going to Stanford. I enjoy his self-possessed attitude and his slight edge of sarcasm. I think he sees right through us all.

So, back to the party. The kids were having a blast! It wasn’t too chaotic! They’re mostly old enough not to need direct supervision every second. So I talked to Mara, who I knew at nursery school, and Emily, Sam’s ex-nanny, who used to hang at the park with me. I met Lois, B., and many other moms. Annabel’s dad and I talked about schools in the district. Stay in Montessori? Go into public kindergarten? Sam’s dad listened to me talk about my book and then told me about his software company, which makes a tool for immigration lawyers, and what it’s like to hire programmers in China and then manage them from afar. (Difficult.)

Another mom and I talked about the strike and march tomorrow, the general strike as a protest against HR 4437. She’s going, I’m going, and she said “of course” her kids will not be in school. She was at the earlier rally, and hopes this one will be bigger. Anyway, she works… in an office in downtown SF… and she said, “You know what. I am an illegal.” In Mexico, she was a teacher for 20 years. The general cameraderie was spoiled slightly when in talking about how the divisions within Latino/a communities run deep, she said some harsh things about US-born Chicanos. Ouch! Whoa! Now, to be fair to her, she has a kid in high school and I think she must be seeing him targeted as a “potential gang member” by people in authority, random strangers, etc. But it was kind of funny after our discussion of anti-racism to hear her rip on Chicanos.

At the party I found myself idiotically exclaiming over how big the children were. Oh, I just committed a Sin of Grownups… I couldn’t help it. Some of them I haven’t seen for a whole year! And they’re so BIG now, and look so much older. A whole lot of kids gave me that look – as if thinking, “Yeah, time passes, a$$h*le. Big news.”

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