Yesterday, Adele hosted a Halloween party for some of her friends from Cranleigh. To be more precise, by “Adele hosted,” I mean, Adele stuck her head in the couch cushions with her butt up in the air like an ostrich as her guests arrived. And by “friends from Cranleigh,” I mean, other children of moms with whom I am friends on Facebook but that she had never met!
Each of the grade levels at Cranleigh has a private Facebook group that parents can join to communicate with each other. FS2 seems to have one of the more active pages, which I appreciate. We can ask each other simple questions like, do you have the lunch menu for this week? Or recommend after school activities, etc. Some of the moms asked if there were anything to do on or near Saadiyat Island in between pick-up times for the younger and older children (because they let out a couple hours apart, so it’s quite awkward if you have more than one kid in school). There really isn’t much on the island yet, so I offered to host a playdate, and then I decided to make it Halloween-themed since it was this week. But then the party took on a life of it’s own – as if I could ever simply have people over to hang out.
There were ten other four/five-year olds besides Adele and a handful of younger siblings around May’s age. I believe that only one of the other families was from the States (but they are also from upstate NY and are also professors at another university in Abu Dhabi. Isn’t that a funny coincidence?), so the party was really, let’s show these Brits and Europeans and Australians how we celebrate Halloween in ‘Murica.
Of course an American Halloween means carving pumpkins! But that’s not quite so easy to do here. First you have to procure a pumpkin. There are no picturesque pumpkin patches to drag the kids to. There are no massive piles of pumpkins outside the grocery store. There are only a handful of pumpkins at a few select grocery stores and they are EXPENSIVE. But it’s totally worth the money for tradition. TRADITIOOOON! Tradition. I asked each of the other moms to bring along their own pumpkin to carve, but also suggested a pineapple if a real pumpkin was too difficult to buy. (Side note: how awesome are carved pineapples?!)
The party turned into a costume party and every single one of the kids came in costume, which I love! I know for a fact that if I threw this same party back home, only a few other kids would dress up. I don’t know whyyyyyyy, but that’s just the way it’s been in my experience. Don’t even get me started on kids who go trick-or-treating without a costume……grrr…….
Here are some of the wonderful children who joined us:
Oh, my bad. That’s mostly just my wonderful child. The dragon in the upper right corner is Emil, who is from Sweden. He is also in Mrs. Peripoli’s class with Adele. I really like Emil. He is so sweet and shy, with the biggest eyes. He spoke hardly any English when school started and he has already learned so much! The pink fairy in the bottom right corner is Avalon, whose parents are the other American professors I mentioned above. Avalon was supposed to be in Adele’s class, but got moved out at the last minute, much to my chagrin, because I think these two fairy princesses would be best friends. They have very similar personalities.
Spiderman is Julius. Another Peripoli classmate of Adele’s, he makes me laugh. It could be as simple as his thick British accent, but also because he’s just a goofball. In the above picture, he was just startled by the surprise hand that pops out of the popcorn bowl when you go in for a handful. Look at that smile!
The tiger is Florian, whose parents are from Austria. Florian has a younger sister Anna whose birthday is just one day away from May’s! The skeleton brothers are Jamie and Johnny. Jamie is in Mrs. Peripoli’s class as well and I ADORE him. That’s probably just because he actually talks to me instead of looking at me as if I were insane when I try to talk to him (like other children often do). Jamie’s mother Rose is from Scotland and they live nearby at the St. Regis. The pirate is Matthia. I had never met his mother Natalie before, but she is clearly a super awesome person:
She and I were the only moms in costume. I hadn’t planned on wearing anything, but at the last minute decided I could throw something together by dressing in all black, borrowing a headband from Adele, sticking one of Jeff’s black ties down the back of my pants, and painting a ton of black eyeliner all over my face:
(I have come to appreciate the staying power of Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner. It didn’t smear at all when I kissed my kids throughout the day…and it didn’t really come off at night. I smeared most of it off with make-up remover, but had to go to bed looking like a dude with a five o’clock shadow. My pillow took off the rest, thankfully.)
The other kids who came to the party, but for whom I don’t have a great picture of their costumes, were Markus, the final classmate of Adele (only boys from her class came!) who came along with his little brother as two Minions, Melissa as a cheerleader and her buddy Kenzie as Elsa from Frozen, and Laila who came with her little sister as fairy princesses.
The party began right after school let out at 2:30. We had it in the lounge on a lower floor of our building right next to the children’s play room and overlooking the very-soon-to-be-completed playground. The lounge has a dining area and a fully outfitted kitchen, but I didn’t need any appliances, because Jeff and I prepared everything in advance. Here are a few pictures of what we made:
The melon eyeballs were a last minute invention. We bought the orange melon in case we couldn’t find a pumpkin, but then we did find pumpkins at the second grocery store we went to. Jeff carved the melon into a silly face anyway and scooped the insides into balls and stuffed them with maraschino cherries. We also had candy and spiced cider.
The lounge was big enough to separate the space into five different zones. We had a pumpkin carving station:
A corner for bobbing for apples:
A table with Dia de los Muertos sugar skull masks and coloring supplies:
A place for kids to read Halloween books:
And room for a cakewalk-type game:
Along with a pumpkin, I asked every mom to bring along a small prize for this game. The idea was to play music and have the kids walk in a circle on numbered discs until the music stopped and then I would call out a number and that kid would get to pick out any of the prizes. Unfortunately, the music from the laptop was barely audible once the room was filled with shrieking children, the music then stopped and I had to sing the only Halloween song I know (which is one line from a song I learned in elementary school that goes, “H-A-double L-O-W-double E-N spells Halloween!” repeated over and over again) and my attempts to give each round of walking a theme by telling the kids to “walk like a mummy!” or “walk like a ghost!” were met with much confusion, because I guess kids this age don’t really know what mummies or ghosts are and hence, have no idea what they walk like! Fair enough, kids! But they all seemed to have fun, and of course it’s a great “game” to play, because everyone wins eventually and everyone gets a prize.
I would say the party was a great success. This age is so wonderful and genuine. The kids were happy and excited for everything, they were good sports and polite, they played happily with each other even if they had never met before, and there was only one very short set of tears. Only one! That’s unheard of.
The other moms I met were gracious and sweet. They brought real hostess gifts (like potted plants and boxes of chocolates and bouquets of flowers, etc), which I am totally not used to from living in the etiquette desert that is the United States. And they were effusively complimentary and thankful, which I really appreciate! It was a great chance to meet other families that aren’t from NYU, even though I totally adore my NYU chums.
Here are two final photographs that I have to share, because I find them hilarious:
I feel like this could be Adele at a college frat party, totally wasted. But for now, while she’s my good little angel baby, this is simply her “Mmm, I looove cider and Rice Krispie Treats” expression.
And last, but not least, it’s a bird…it’s a plane…it’s…
And now to plan Super May-May’s birthday party…