Wednesday, August 10, 2011

How did I give birth to a socially adept child?

Not that I'm not pleased. It's just surprising to see someone who looks and acts so much like me be so...outgoing. Of course, I'm much more outgoing these days than I was as a child (the Slovak is the same), so maybe we can foster our girl's warm, friendly nature without making her as shy as we were as children. Balance is good.

This past weekend we were invited to the birthday party of the Slovak's co-worker's twins. Of course, when I told K she'd been invited to a party, she hardly cared that she'd never met the hosts. She was incandescent with joy. "Really?? I like parties! I've never been to a party!" (She has, but it was over a year ago so she doesn't remember. She loved that one, too.)

This was interesting in a couple of ways. For one, it offered us a partial answer to our "What do people do for their children's birthdays?" question, at least for a certain segment of the population. It also confirmed for us that while it was fun, it's not our style. (Rented facility, hired clowns, lots of kids, only some of whom the birthday girls actually knew)

We also got a rare opportunity to watch our child interacting with her peers, since we got to stay for the party, too. She wasn't the youngest there, but she was on the younger end of the kids participating in the games, competitions, and so on. At one point the children took turns singing a song into a microphone. We looked over, saw K about fifth in line (and at least a year younger than the next youngest in line), and wondered out loud to each other if she knew what she was lining up for...we both expected her to get shy or scared when it was her turn, but she announced her name and chosen song clearly into the microphone and then sang it. She got a bit muddled up in the middle, but she finished - just like most of the older ones who sang before her.

The striking thing was that the man in the clown suit clearly had no idea she wasn't a Czech little girl (you could tell by some of the things he said to her). She communicated clearly and age appropriately. Even forgetting the text mid-song was age appropriate, and her singing was pretty on-key. Score for K!

I also met (or re-met) several of the Slovak's co-workers who were present. They apparently all remembered that the Slovak is married to an American but nothing else about me, because they were all comically surprised to find that I speak Czech. (It's a common reaction.)

(all in Czech)
"You speak Czech??"
"Yes, I do."
"You are Czech?"
"I'm not Czech, but I speak Czech."
(to the Slovak) "I had no idea your wife speaks Czech!"
(all with a clear subtext of "But you sound so...normal!")

Have you ever noticed that if you type Czech too many times in a row, it starts to look funny? :)

I also met/overheard a couple of Czech-speaking foreigners, which is always interesting as we are, apparently, relatively few in number. This was because several of the families present were in similar (Czech-English, at least) situations as us, so I had a few brief conversations about bilingual kids and such.

We also overheard that there was another Apo present - I overheard a girl calling "Apo! Apo!" and saw that another man, speaking Slovak, was answering her. I'm not sure we've met any other Apos, at least not directly. I think my Slovak felt some Apo solidarity going on, even though the two of them didn't speak.

Lots of fun was had, K behaved really well (especially on just a 20 minute nap), fit in very nicely with peers (have I mentioned the wonder of two introverts producing a highly social, leadership-quality-possessing child? the Slovak and I would both have suffered at a party full of people we didn't know, and we'd have died before performing a song in front of a crowd like that!), and the party lasted so long we had to cut out early (after 3.5 hours) because it showed no sign of letting up and we had company waiting for us at home... Overall: success.

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