Sunday, May 03, 2009

Bembos Birthday Bash

Let me set the stage for those of you who have never been to Peru or a child’s birthday party in Peru. First of all, I think most of the Peruvian mothers in our neighborhood think I’m cruel because we didn’t throw Max a party last year. Parties here are HUGE for little kids. Maximo went to a party today for one of his neighborhood friends, Santiago. This is only the second birthday party I’ve gone with Max – not counting teacher’s kids, but those are different, because we know everyone there, English is the main language spoken, and it’s usually just a cookout or pizza party at someone’s house…
The setting: Bembos – a proud Peruvian fast food chain – an equivalent to McDonalds.
After forcing myself not to leave the house before 11:00 – the invitation stated the party started at 11:00 am, we were about the fifth people to arrive at 11:15. There was a large play area with ball pit and “soft play” area so Max said hello to Santiago, then was off playing.
Max happily played and was thrilled when Bembo’s workers started passing around “hors d’oeuvres” - different platters of chicken nuggets, onion rings, fried yucca, and fried cheese sticks.
Then, the crazy American woman (ME), sees drinks being passed and the mother of the birthday boy asks if we’d like a drink. “Si” I reply. The waiter comes to us, but is only serving Coca Cola and Inca Cola. Mind you, there are probably 25 kids under 4 at this party with just as many adults.
“Do you have water or juice or only sodas?” I ask the waiter, in Spanish, I’m not that crazy.
“No, only sodas.”
“No thank you.” I reply.
A few minutes later the mother returns concerned we don’t have a drink. “No, we’re fine,” I reply. “Maximo doesn’t drink soda.” She starts to fuss over us a bit, and I tell her not to worry, I have water for Max (which I do in the car, down the block – along with diapers. Let’ s just say I’m not always the most prepared mother in the world.)
After continuing to nibble on the fried delicacies, Max and I both become thirsty, so I walk downstairs to the order counter with a kid screaming, “Agua, agua, agua!”
My twenty soles bill is counterfeit, so they won’t take it and thankfully I have another bill in my pocket. The cashier also begins to think I’m crazy when I ask for the same cup, lid and straw the soda is being served in upstairs, so Max doesn’t have to look crazy with his crazy mom. I pour in the bottled water… Max stops yelling “Agua!”
Soon, the show starts…

Here’s a bit from it:
Max is enthralled. I’ve never seen him sit so still and be so engaged! If his teachers use puppets when he’s in school, he’s sure to pass.
Afterwards the Bembo’s Girls start dancing. Max is disinterested because it’s not Rap, Cumbia or Reggaeton, so he goes back into the ballpit.
He misses the piñata and the throwing of “cheap little plastic Made in China” toys around the room. Fine by me.
Lunch is served. It’s the equivalent of a Happy Meal – French fries, which he devours, and chicken nuggets. He sits like a big boy next to his friend Jimena because there’s just no room for adults at the table. He looks like such a big boy! The table was at about eye level for him, but he sat there very well and ate his lunch. I wonder where my little baby has gone.
He then returns to the play area in which I’m happy to report, he plays quite well with many kids and bites no one! Yipee!
We say our goodbyes, gather sopresas (like a giftbag), two boxed pieces of cake, give kisses all around, then head back home so Max (and Mommy and Daddy) could take an afternoon nap.

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