Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Party Goes On

I have received a fair few comments on my recent posts namely, my refusal to put Barney and his friends on my creation and the actual "birthday" party for my young nephews. Friends, in my real life, have also actively participated in this discussion.

I am relieved that most of you voted against Barney. To further my understanding on the subject, I kid you not, I tuned into a couple of children's channels so I could give Barney and other cartoon characters a fair go.

I must admit, at least Barney talks which is way better than those Telly Tubbies - the dumbest show for kids ever. Telly Tubbies videos should come with a warning for parents: The content of this video seriously set back intellectual development of your child. However, I am still not convinced Barney would become my friend in the future.

After much on-field investigation, aided by my six Argentine nephews and nieces, I have mentally drawn up a list of characters, some with their own television programmes, I would definitely avoid as a parent. I am sure my list has not comprehensively embraced all the rubbish out there but it is a start...

Telly Tubbies
Barney
Barbie
Frutilla (Strawberry Shortcake)
Florencienta
Batman
Spiderman

I would definitely not mind young children viewing, once in a while, Winnie the Pooh, Thomas the Tank Engine, and Bob the Builder. If you think my choices are too masculine, I must confess my niece in Sydney, Madeleine or Maddy, loved Bob the Builder very much when she was younger.

More importantly, it is never too early to start reading to and communicating with young children in a normal tone of voice. They are just young, not stupid; goo-goo-ga-ga is only going to make adult look stupid in the eyes of the child and others. In fact, prolonged exposure to baby talk hinders development of the child's intelligence.

There are a lot of good children's books for all ages. When my nephew in Sydney, Liam, was about 2 years of age, he loved The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Each Peach Pear Plum read to him more than few times a day. Spot and Buster are also good series for the younger ones.

In Buenos Aires, I've found and bought for Tomás, the eldest in the Barney loving family, Nacho and his grandma going on a plane. I like all the books on Nacho, a little boy, and his adventures. The stories relate to our daily lives and the colours are vivid and interesting.

Then, the subject turns to what to do at kids' parties. Last summer, Guillermo and I thought we walked into a nightmare when we attended our nephew from the other Spiderman and Barbie loving family, Felipe's birthday party. It started at 8:00p.m and ended way after midnight; the boy was only turning 3.

A long table was set up for the kids; the beverage, the only option, was Coca-Cola and the food was reconstituted meat or what manufacturers prefer calling frankfurters. In the middle, there were plates of sugar puffs in deep red, green and purple (one can find them in most supermarkets here, especially the down-market ones).

The adults had sandwich de miga (thin sandwiches) of ham and cheese and deep fried empanadas. We could choose between Ser (an artificial tasting zero calorie drink) and Coca-Cola. I had a few sandwiches and smelly tap water for dinner that evening.

An MC was hired for the occasion. She asked Felipe, in front of all the kids, who his girlfriend was. The poor little boy looked lost and pointed to his elder sister. The MC corrected him and suggested he pick a girlfriend from the girls in the crowd. Later, his parents came out dressed as clowns to administer some game involving balls being thrown into their over-sized pants. Guillermo and I were abhorred.

At around midnight, after all the play things were cleared away, lights were dimmed and loud Latin music was blaring through the system. In no time, there were multi-coloured strobe lights and to our horror, a smoke machine pumping smoke into the already stuffy room. The children, mostly age 3-5, all high on the little sugary or salty food and litres of coke they had for dinner, were grinding their hips towards each other to tunes such as Lambada and La Camisa Negra. Given the average age of the participants, it was the sleaziest party I have ever attended.

At around one, the kids left looking like they had been to a rave party. Considering none of them were even school age yet, what were the parents thinking? Guillermo and I came out feeling really sickened. Later that same night, our abuela suffered a minor stroke.

I don't mean to come across as a party-booper but I'm more than sure there are appropriate and fun ways to host a children's party. Our generation has fewer kids and therefore, they have become a lot more precious. Children parties are the thing now and no parent can avoid them; domestic goddess like Donna Hay puts a kids' issue of her magazine out every year. Treats should be enjoyed at parties, after all these are celebrations but there are many ideas which are a bit more balanced.

A fellow food blogger in Sydney has recently hosted a children's party on her blog with cute photos and wonderful party food ideas, see
here.

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