Monday, March 29, 2010

Now He Turns Five

Tomorrow is Lucas' fifth birthday, and like probably every parent on the planet, I can't believe he's already five.

As I have written in past posts (and my fellow expat bloggers have done as well) Brazilians make a really big deal of kid's birthdays. Thank goodness this is winding down somewhat in Casa Pfohl, as it seems the rule is the smaller the kid the bigger the birthday. This plus the fact that I am suffering from fairly severe underemployment and can't be throwing the big bashes like we used to. This year bashes will be simply bash, as for the past couple years he's had both a party at school and a party at home. This year, just the school party. Last year I noted that Evani and some friends worked for three days to prepare for the party, this year, she started this evening.

This is a good thing. I like this scaled down business very much.

I've pretty much wrapped up my part, which was to go out and buy all the accoutrements. Kid's parties are always themed here, with little girls having Barbie or Disney Princess parties, while little boys do Hulk or The Incredibles or Cars. I must say I think the boys have much better options, and the same thing goes for cheapo presents, like the ones we buy for other kid's parties at school. For most of the past year, Lucas had planned to do a Ben 10 birthday, but at the last minute he changed his mind to Homem Aranha, better know as Spider-Man to all you English speakers.

As I was doing my shopping, I regretted a bit his change of theme. You can buy everything to match your chosen theme, from party hats to cups to napkins, etc. Everything but cutlery. This year, I only got the Spider-Man party hats and Spider-Man gift bags and Spider-Man cardboard cutouts to tape on the wall in the Spider-Man theme. Oh yeah- and a Spider-Man candle for the cake. There are actually several flavors of Spider-Man, and Lucas is getting a blend, although I don't think he cares. He's got the modern red and blue Spider-Man popularized by the blockbuster films mixed in with the younger-kid-targeted Spidey & Friends version. None of the evil alien black suit Spider-Man in the mix. The reason I came to regret Lucas' change in theme is because Spider-Man is much harder to find this year than Ben 10. I had to go in a bunch of stores just to find the hats. And the worst was the costume.

I know, I didn't have to buy Lucas a Spider-Man costume. But you have to understand- of all the toys he will receive (I'll get to those later), none will receive half as much play time as the costume. He was wearing his Batman costume from last year just this morning. He loves his costumes. His Superman costume was forgotten in the States on our last visit and that's a good thing, because it was disintegrating. This year, I looked everywhere for a Spider-Man costume. Actually, I found one fairly early on, but it was eighty reis (about forty bucks) and I just wasn't ready to pay that much for the thing. Luckily for us, we live close to the main kid-party-shopping district, where there are probably two dozen stores that cater to these kid's parties. I went in every single store. One of them had 12 boxes of brand new Ben 10 costumes, several Batmans and Supermen, but no Spider-Men. Another had one for rent, but it looked to be sized for an eight year old, not a five year old. Finally, in the very last store, in a poorly lit aisle in the back on a tiny rack, I found about a half dozen cheesy Spider-Man costumes for a reasonable price. Yeah!!

So about those presents. When I was a kid, I got tons of presents for my birthday. I got so many that my brother used to get presents too so he wouldn't feel bad. I realized as I was finishing up with the present buying this year that the number of presents Lucas will get on his birthday is probably about equal to what my brother used to get on my birthday.

I think this is a good thing. We train our kids to be consumers right out of the gate, and we get a lot of help from a lot of corporations trying to market their goods (or bads) to our little ones. I like me a good bit of consumerism myself on occasion, and I like to get things for the kids, but it's good to have limits, even if they are artificially imposed financial starvation limits. Well, I like to think I'd be sparing anyways. My wife (don't tell her I mentioned this) never got a single toy as she was growing up, for birthdays or Christmas. Ruan, the first year I was here, also didn't get anything for Christmas except a trip to Pelourinho, which was more than his mom got. This might explain why my wife considers toys to be nothing but clutter. I mean, she has a point- most of them don't get much use- but for me toys are sacred. Just like books. But that's a different post.

So Lucas is going to get one overpriced action figure sitting in a car, several Hot Wheels cars (nice and cheap), a DVD of Finding Nemo I found on sale, and a very few other odds and ends. Plus whatever his classmates give him, which will be thirty toys out of which only four or five will survive until next week.

I'll try to post some Happy Five Year Old pics in the next couple days- wish me luck!


Fabio Bossard said...

accoutrements?? I cant even pronounce it.
Ok, I am glad the costume you found for rent were for a 8 year old kid. You would have a headache if you rented it. Lucas wouldn't let you return.
and yes, you guys get a lot more toys and presents. I get impressed. but it's easy to understand. Different economy. Incomes. I was surprised when my friend (who is 24) told me what she got for xmas. Lots of presents. She even got multiple presents from many people.

The Golden Papaya said...

Happy birthday to Lucas. The kids' birthday party thing is crazy here, isn't it? Hope the day went well.

AkuTyger said...

If I had known you were looking and had had time, I could have made you the costume. Maybe a plan for next year then. I owe you for all the phone calls and back and forth and mess of Tshirts that didn't happen.

markuza said...

Fabio - Nice word, eh? My laptop said it was spelled wrong, but I checked and it's not

TGP - it is nuts, this birthday thing. I've never been to a wealthy kid's party, sounds like that's even that much more over the top.

AkuTyger - you don't owe me anything, but who knows, I might take you up on your tailoring skills!

Pedra said...

I went to a rich kid's birthday party when I was in Brazil. It was my student's son and he rented out an arcade at one of the malls, I think it was at Shopping Salvador. All the adults hung out drinking beer and snacking on the traditional party snacks (those cheese breads, etc) while the kids ran wild through the arcade playing games. The birthday boy got a ton of presents which he didn't open there and barely acknowledged when given to him (I didn't hear one "obrigado"). It was kind of boring actually and not as fun as the second party that he had that same year which was out on a fazenda and involved horseback riding, soccer, swimming and the teenage girls making the 8 year old boys play a bunch of organized games. I rode a horse, drank beer, ate more cheesy breads and enjoyed myself immensely.


markuza said...

Wow. The more I hear about how the wealthy live here the stranger it seems to me. Maybe this is just a 'sour grapes' phenomenon but I don't think so. Then again, Cheryl, the only window I've gotten into that world was through you (outside of the blogs I read) and it didn't seem that alien at the time. Just a little weird maybe.