Sophia Day, or how to crash a three-year old’s birthday party
We haven’t been that good at finding kids for Sophia to play with since we set off on September 2nd. Mainly, this is because most families with young children are at home attending to things like school and work. Thus, we have mainly been meeting full-timer retirees, the occasional weekender and a few others who like to travel off-peak. Also, we’ve been rushing towards California and away from winter. So, we decided to celebrate Sophia and her patience with a special event, Sophia Day, which took place on Saturday October 24. In Grass Valley, California. In honor of this, the whole day was dedicated to her pleasure. Kind of like a birthday, but maybe even better since it came totally out of the blue.
So, she got to choose what to have for breakfast: pancakes, a peanut butter blend, spiced up with fresh pomegranate. Then, we cut shapes from colored construction paper: triangles, circles and hearts. Following a quick shower, we ambled over to the duck pond, where we promptly met Two Kids – Hannah and Doug, ages almost 3 and almost 6, who with their parents have recently moved to the Nevada County area from Santa Cruz. They had a grand old time, feeding a whole box of graham crackers to a pack of about 25 fearless ducks, riding bikes, sharing toys and comparing ages and heights. Then, it was on to Cornish pasties – yes, Cornish pasties in California. The Cornish were brought here for their hard rock mining skills during the Gold Rush. Daniel, who grew up in Cornwall, said they tasted like the real thing.
On the suggestion of Hannah and Douglas’ mother Tracey, we then stopped by the Condon Park playground. She was right – it was perfect for the 2-5 age group, featuring slides, a mini fire engine, a built-in walkie-talkie like apparatus, swings and the like. She ran around for ages, with plenty of kids to play with – even some who willingly played round after round of shopkeeper.
What we didn’t expect was to insinuate ourselves into a birthday party. We think it was a group of firefighter parents, who had gathered with their kids to celebrate someone’s daughter’s third(?) birthday. Anyway, as soon as we saw that Sophia had joined the tug-of-war, we doubted there would be any getting out. And when the Dora the Explorer piñata came out, there was definitely no escape. We wondered whether the actual party participants noticed there was a small interloper, the one joining the chorus of “candy, candy, smash it, smash it”. She kept almost getting to the front of the line, as kid after kid took swings at the papier-mâché with a plastic bat. So, Daniel and I sat innocently on the sidelines, trying to eye each other very, very quietly and suppress any and all giggles, lest anyone ruin Sophia Day.
Finally, we couldn’t take Sophia’s possible rejection any longer. I approached the very athletic lady in charge of blind batting and said something like “Um, we’re totally not supposed to be at this party, but could our daughter please-please-please take a whack at the piñata?” So she eventually did, and then someone managed to break Dora’s neck, and then all the candy came pouring out. The athletic lady gave a gleeful whoop and shook the rest out. All the kids came running and filled up their appointed decorative plastic bags, and all the parents cheered, forgetful for a moment about how bad all that sugar is for one’s teeth. It was so exciting, almost as good as if it had actually been Sophia’s own birthday party, with her own friends.
Then, we all realized we were at someone else’s party in someone else’s town.
So we went for pizza, lemonade/beer and frozen yoghurt, completing a very successful Sophia Day.
This photo is from Wyoming - it's sunny and warm during the day here - our camera's gone fuzzy, so we have to use stock images.
Claire – On maternity leave from career as editor of monthly finance trade magazines, and occasionally a freelance translator. Half-American/half-English, raised in the suburbs of New York, has lived in London for almost nine years.
Daniel – Furniture designer/maker based on London’s Columbia Road flower market, for ten years, also an aspiring painter and DIY supremo. On one-year career break to reconsider options. English by birth, but mother is half-American and spent part of her childhood in Bronxville, New York.
Sophia – 3.5-year old spitfire who loves school, singing, swimming and being a big sister
Lulu – Born May 8 of this year, a model baby who eats, sleeps and gurgles.
Special guests – American, British and international friends and family who drop in along our trip to see whatever part of the country they fancy. They’re welcome to travel in the car with us and sleep in an adjoining tent.