The family and I attended the annual big Czech dinner get-together tonight.
Lest you think this is odd… my husband’s parents came to the U.S. from the Czech Republic in the late 60s (then Czechoslovakia). Since then they have accumulated a smörgåsbord of Czech friends, who all have kids, and there are lots of grandkids, etc. So once a year around the holidays they plan this big brunch or dinner and a whole bunch of jabbering Czech people come and catch up and eat and fawn over each other’s grandkids. They are nice people and it is generally a good time.
First gripe though, is that this event has grown, a lot. It first happened 3 or 4 years ago, and maybe there were 30 people there. I’d estimate today at least 70 people were there. This isn’t a bad thing, except that those that plan it I think are consistently underestimating the attendance and the group ends up packed in a space too small, especially given the amount of mingling and number of small children running about. This vexes me to no end, but at least this year we were all in one room, vs. last year where the restaurant had us in two rooms, and the elder folks decided one room would be all the grandparents and the other room would be the kids & grandkids. Stellar.
Anyway, onto the whole purpose of explaining this. In attendance today were 3 boys, I’d say in the 8-10 year age bracket, who brought along their handheld game system doohickeys. Damned if these boys didn’t spend the whole four hours of the party with their noses in their laps, save maybe the 5 minutes it took them to wolf down their food.
I was nine once, and I remember how awkward it could be to attend adult-focused parties. At that age, you’re too big to run around with the little kids, too small to expect adults to not talk to you like a preschooler, and you’re at a socially defensive age where it’s weird and uneasy to just chat up the kids your age that might be around.
But you know what? You learn social skills by enduring those situations. You might get to meet someone interesting. You might get so bored that you do resort to running around with the little kids and find you have fun doing it. At the very least you are forced to spend a bit of time with your relatives and family friends.
As a relatively new parent, I’m currently learning as I go, feeling out for me where I want to be on the Passive:Autocratic Continuum* and what works best for me and my family. Please, though, if I ever become the kind of parent who is so permissive that I allow my child to act this way at a social event, please punch me in the face.
*(c) me, 2008