Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Quincenera

As the mother of two curious four-year-olds, I spend a lot of time explaining things.
Yesterday, for example, I laid out how the Earth spins on an axis, the chemistry behind food burning in a pan and the mechanics of that soft webbing lining the armpits of flying squirrels.
Today was no different.
While walking the paths of the Dallas Arboretum on a spectacular November day, I gave what I think was a respectable 15-minute lecture on the cultural meaning of the Mexican quincenera.
The conversation was sparked by two teenage girls done up in lacey hoop-skirted ball gowns the color of cotton candy. Posing amongst the mums, a gaggle of photographers clicked away as they moved this way and that, flicking long-lashed eyes at the cameras.
Four-year-old Elizabeth literally stopped in her tracks upon seeing the senoritas.
“Brides!” she breathed.
(You have no idea the power of brides to a four-year-old girl until you’ve raised one. With the exception of princesses, they are the bomb.)
“No, they’re not brides,” I explained. “They’re dressed up for their birthdays. People of Mexican heritage have big parties to celebrate their 15th year. They believe that girls of that age are officially adults.”
I am shooting from the hip here, pulling knowledge from my eight grade Spanish class and memories of conversations I had five years ago with my girlfriend Rocio who was quinceinered (if that’s a verb) sometime in the late 1980s.
We trail the girls until they exit the gardens, our little group peeling off to the right, the teens going to the left.
Twenty-five minutes later, we’re in the car and Elizabeth is still considering quinceneras. She is now at the point where she’s whining about wanting such a party.
I explain that it really isn’t our custom—that she’s of mixed Dutch heritage which instead means eating boiled meat and clogging in wooden shoes—but that she can have a big party with her friends next week, if she wants to.
“No,” she says carefully, “I am going to adopt a baby from Mexico.”
Of course, my little smarty pants is ensuring she can have her own quincenera—even if it won’t be for another 40 years.



Eudea-Mamia said...

LOL! Funny stuff. And bravo on your knowledge - you amaze me!


Jamie said...

That girl really keeps you on your toes! Knowing her, she probably will adopt a baby from Mexico one day.

BTW, eudea-mamia amazes me as well - up to blog at 4:53am!

texasholly said...

So funny. I love the description of the power of the bride to a 4 y/o girl. That power doesn't exist at my house and it is good for me to be exposed to girl culture...