I have so much to write about at the moment, I don’t know where to begin, but considering yesterday was a near-perfect day, I think I need to jump ahead and share. Yesterday, our 11 year old twins turned 12 (well, actually, they didn’t turn 12 until 3am today since they were born around 6pm Seattle time). We started the day serving Hadley and Davis American pancakes, although they are slightly different in Spain since there is no such thing as true maple syrup here. Here, we eat them with strawberry jam, lemon curd, and Nutella. And if we eat them the British way, they are more like crepes. While we took in our first nourishment for the day together, the kids made it very clear that we were not to plan anything or publicize their birthday with their Spanish school community at all. “We want to celebrate our birthday in English!”
After breakfast, George and I insisted that we walk the kids to school, much to their dismay. They have gotten too comfortable, as of late, with their independent commute, so much that they feel utterly embarrassed when we decide to join them on a whim. They demanded that we say goodbye halfway only to have discovered that we had taken a detour and met them at the entrance of their school. You may imagine that we were smothering them slightly but it was critical that we got to school as we needed to find another parent to confirm plans for a secret celebration after school. I took a huge risk and against their wishes, I went ahead and planned a surprise party with four of their closest Spanish classmates. Now remember, Hadley and Davis have yet to initiate any social time with Spanish peers. Their social comforts are growing at school and on their sport teams but they maintain a certain amount of timidness and fear of acting in any way that would make them stand out and be noticed. So, needless to say, any encouragement and strong urging we have imposed upon them, to initiate with Spanish friends, has been rejected. I was facing the possibility of “being murdered” as Davis just inserted into this post.
George and I anxiously left the kids at school, delivered the clues for a scavenger hunt (starting with strict instructions for Hadley and Davis to go to the school secretary after dismissal) and then sat at the location of the second clue, hoping and praying that they wouldn’t curse our names and march home to get on their screens in defiance. Relief fell over me as they finally approached the statue of the pulpo (octopus) where they were to find clue number 2. They seemed like fairly good sports so we gave them the next clue and sent them on their way. After visiting our Spanish teacher and collecting the third clue, they found four Spanish classmates waiting for them at a nearby pizza place where they were sung to by and received gifts from their friends and then fed by the waiter whom we enrolled earlier to help with the plan. The bonus was they were on their own without the embarrassment of their American parents hanging around with scary Spanish skills. The embarrassment, however, was waiting for them at the final location, a dessert café where Hadley and Davis have become regulars. As the 6 of them arrived and joined us at a table and their birthday cakes were served, an awkward silence filled the café (no one else was there since it was siesta time) and I must have been shot down by Hadley’s lazer eyes every time I opened my mouth to try to speak Spanish. “S-T-O-P,” she mouthed to me. George and I knew we needed to keep our visit short. As soon as the last bite was taken, we excused them to run off and play fútbol in the plaza until they returned to their respective homes. So off they went not to be seen again for another hour.
After a moment (literally) to catch their breath at home, Davis went off to fútbol practice while Hadley accepted an invitation to swim in her friend’s pool (the best birthday present EVER for her!) . Afterwards, we met our British friends for dinner at the new Indian restaurant in town (Chicken Tikka Masala is one of our family’s new favorite meals). We returned home with just enough time to open presents and phone grandmothers before we all crashed. Once in bed and just before their eyes sealed shut, Davis told me he was glad I invited his Spanish friends to his party and Hadley reported having exchanged social media contact information with her friends. The adrenalin in my system drained and I continue to feel relieved that I have lived to write this post.