“The first seven years of a child are the formative years,” said one of my college instructors. I wondered if that was the reason we Filipinos throw big parties for the seventh birthday of a child — to celebrate the end of those formative years? Mama threw a big one for my sister when she turned seven. She didn’t do that when I did. As a young child, I wondered if that was because Mama loved her more than she loved me. It was just one of those sibling rivalries. Of course, now that I am a mother, I realized that she loved and still loves us both equally.
When I came here in Winnipeg, I found out that it has become a Filipino custom to throw Dinner and Dance parties for a child’s seventh birthday. Ronald and I couldn’t afford to throw lavish parties. When our oldest son, Reggie, turned seven, we opted to have a simple children’s party. Reggie wanted to invite his school friends anyway and he didn’t really enjoy Dinner and Dance parties. Besides, I thought that if we threw a Dinner and Dance party for him, then we’d also have to do it for his younger siblings, lest they get jealous, like I did.
Ryland turned seven this February. He invited eight classmates as well as two ten-year-old brothers who are Ryan’s classmates. Of course, Tita Lina’s family was invited and so was Lola. We also invited his ninangs and a few close friends. The venue was our home, which I decorated with SpongeBob SquarePants theme to match the SpongeBob piñata. I decorated our living room with yellow and blue streamers and yellow and blue balloons. The basement had a Valentine theme — red and white streamers and red and pink heart balloons.
We ordered pizzas for the little ones and for the not-so-little ones there were: kare-kare with bagoong, pancit bihon, lumpiang shanghai and majablanco for desert. Mama made some pancit malabon. I made chicken macaroni salad and also two-layered Jello (Strawberry and Fruit Fiesta flavours) in small plastic cups. My sister, Lina, took care of the ice cream cake, which had a soccer theme.
The first to arrive were our dear friends Elaine and husband Mike. At around 1:00 p.m., the little guests started arriving. “They are small,” Elaine was surprised. “Well,” I replied, “they’re only six- and seven-year-olds. They’re only that small.” They all ran together upstairs to the kids’ bedroom. The rumblings of their sturdy short legs thundered as they climbed up the stairs.
Elaine was kind enough to handle the camcorder. The other guests, which included Ninang Empress and Ninang Weng, came. The little ones ate first. They enjoyed the pizzas and the Solar Strawberry Starfruit Kool-aid and the Blue Moon Berry Kool-aid. It was the grown-ups’ turn to eat when they played board games in the living room.
They got bored too soon. “Can we play outside?” Evan asked. I didn’t think so. Although it was a very lovely 2 degrees C outside, I didn’t think that I could handle these rambunctious six- and seven-year-olds out in the backyard. Besides, Ronald was worried that they would just bring mud inside the house.
“Do you guys want to play a Playstation game?” Yes was the unanimous answer. So off they went to the basement where Reggie set up the Grand Turismo game. They took turns as we only had two controllers. Lola overheard Reggie telling Agnus, “They’re driving me crazy.” Jordan left at 2 p.m. since he had a hockey tournament.
We did the piñata next. Everybody was excited. They formed a line and started hitting SpongeBob. Boy, did it take a long time to bring that four-sided yellow character down. When the piñata finally broke, the kids scattered around to pick up the candies and treats on the floor.
Then there was the first cry. Carter didn’t get any. Good thing that I have extras stashed away. I gave him some.
Then we heard the next cry. It was louder. It was Ryland.
“Why are you crying?”
“Mitchell stole my candy.”
Mitchell took Ryland’s candy, but he gave it back to him right away when I came to Ryland’s side.
“Now can we play outside?” I didn’t think so. “Do you guys want to watch Pokemon tapes?” Yes! Some did, and some played with Ryland’s toys in his bedroom. The day before, Ryland made me change the comforter on his bed to the one with pictures of cars in it. He didn’t want his friends to see his Winnie the Pooh blanket because he’s a big boy now. “Mommy, they made a mess in my bedroom,” he complained after a while. “That’s okay, we’ll clean it up later.”
Later on we sang Happy Birthday. Ryland blew the candles and we lighted some sparklers (lusis). We had some ice cream cake. It was yummy! Ryland opened the presents. There were many — Spiderman Construction Set, YuGiOh DungeonDice Monsters, Mega Bloks Gyro Racers — just to name a few. Ryland let his friends played with some of the presents. We took lots of pictures.
At around 4:00 pm, parents started coming to pick up our little guests. There was quite a confusion in finding their jackets which were piled on the floor. But we managed to match the jackets to their owners. Ryland gave his friends goody bags and thanked them for coming.
The rest of the guests left at 5:00 p.m. My legs were sore by the end of the day. Ryland was overwhelmed by the many presents that he received. He didn’t know which ones to play with first.
“Did you have fun?”
“No, Mitchell stole my candy!”
“But he gave it back to you.”
That was the one thing that stuck out in his young and still immature mind.
In spite of the petty theft, I think he and his friends did have a lot of FUN.
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