We’ve been thinking about Bronwyn’s first birthday ever since June when we got back to Fimpulu from the States. We believe that her life is special to us and we want to celebrate it! We also know that there is very little acknowledgement of any child’s birthday here. Many parents only know their child’s birthdate by looking at their under-five card. Very few children know when their birthday is, and none look forward to it. If it’s just another day at school or in the fields – what’s to get excited about? We saw Bronwyn’s birthday as an opportunity not only to create a special memory for her, but also to be a bit radical and counter-cultural (in a good way!) letting people see how crazy we are about our child and hoping that that might prompt some consideration on the part of the parents around us.
The party got started a little after two in the afternoon. We opened up the time with games. First, the parachute. We love this thing.
Next was balloon toss which was fun and funny.
The next game was tug of war. We would just like to warn ya’ll out there to never, ever pick a fight with a Zambian mama. These ladies are tough, and they WILL end you.
Next up came human pyramids which made everyone scratch their heads and wonder what planet we dropped in from.
Pin the tail on the Zebra was far more of a hoot than we expected. I guess getting dizzy in front of a crowd is just the ticket to turn certain kids into total hams.
After games we opened up the “stage” for presentations. There were songs, skits and speeches. The songs were sweet and custom-written for baby B and the skits were entertaining though a little random. (Good feeding practices for babies? I guess that’s a compliment to Bronwyn’s chubbiness and it taught the audience something at the same time!)
People had fun watching and laughing and clapping and singing along. I wasn’t even the only one taping it!
When the program started winding down, we took everyone into the Learning Resource Center to watch a dvd we put together of messages and vides from our friends in the states who were able to send them to us. I’m not sure what people were thinking as they watched videos of our friends and words of blessing flash across the screen. My assumption is that most people were thinking, “cool!” Jeremy and I, on the other hand were simply thinking about how blessed we are to have people who love us on TWO continents. Wherever we are “our people” are there. Jeremy gave a speech explaining to people that we do miss our friends and family in America, and we are sad that they couldn’t be here to celebrate with us in person, but we are equally thankful for the friends and family we have right here in Fimpulu. We thanked them for their love and for coming out to celebrate with us.
And then we intro-ed the cake.
We gave to the adults first to move the bigger bodies out of the overly stuffed room. Bronwyn was very kind as she watched her cake dwindle before her eyes. Not that she really knew what she was missing. I haven't really let her eat anything too sweet yet.
Once the adults had filed out of the LRC with cake in hand, the kids were invited to line up. I think “line up” to Zambian kids actually means, “please form a mob and push and shove each other till someone cries and then keep pushing to get to what you want.” The squares of cake were tiny little one inch squares, though you would have thought we were handing out pure gold. On a few occasions, Jeremy had to pull the plug, get everyone to back up and calm down so that no one got seriously hurt.
I had the bright idea of handing out the party-kazoo-things that we picked up for the occasion. This ultimate was worse than the cake! I assumed that kids would take them and pass them around and be overall congenial towards one another, but my casual distribution turned into a total stampede to the point that I feared for my safety and just ran. Jeremy and I took a five minute pow-wow inside to try to figure out why our well-intentioned party planning was turning our little guests into total crazies. Our older, wiser friends let us down easily. “Just stop. You’re not going to be able to pass these things out like you want to.” They were right, and while we were disappointed in the kids behavior, we were also disappointed that we didn’t forsee that happening and just avoid it all together. Oh well. Next year – games, program, NO GIVE-AWAYS. Everyone will go home happy.
Once we were obviously done passing out cake and kazoos, kids went back to playing and laughing like the good-natured kids we know and love. We made our rounds thanking people for coming and showing us that they care. The outpouring of love for our family was really amazing. Given the number of cake slices we passed out, plus those who didn’t get, plus the others mingling around, we estimate that there were about 250 people total in attendance. We really were blown away.
Those non-Zambian people on the left there (where’s waldo anyone?) are John and Rosa, our friendly Peace Corps volunteers from up the road. Also with us was Cheng, another Peace Corps Volunteer who you won’t see in any of the pics because she as taking them all for us. We were thankful for the three extra pairs of hands as it made cake decorating, game facilitating and interference running easier.
All in all, the party was truly wonderful. Even though Bronwyn passed out in the middle of all the action after spending most of her time off in lala land, I hope she somehow got the point that this was all meant to make her feel loved. As I thought about how special the afternoon had been, I began to tear up. I just so wish that family could have been there to see it all and enjoy along side us. Jeremy took a moment to comfort my heart as only he can while we both held our sleeping daughter.
Baby girl, you are the apple of our eye and this whole crazy shin-dig was to show you that we think you’re swell. We hope that when you are older and can look at pictures from this day it will move you to tears as it does me. God has given you an amazing sphere of friends, both old and young, who are walking with you and waiting with bated breath to see what happens next in your fascinating little life. May you know our love, and the love of the Father who is the original dreamer of all these good and perfect gifts. We love you darling daughter, and always will. Hugs and kisses, Mom.