the Halloween Fête
One by one the guests arrived, each parent laughing, saying "Merci" for us giving them a couple of hours sans kids, and then "Bon Courage!" as they slipped back through the gate.
Being the dutiful American who occasionally visits FamilyFun.com, I had not only prepared healthy and festive snacks for our guests, but also some great games like "mummy hands" and pin the nose on the witch.
Imagine this scene: 7 or 8 little witches jumping on the trampoline, 3 or 4 princesses swinging on the hammock, a few playing dolls on the kitchen floor, some on the monkey bars and some hanging around the family room watching "Harry Potter", which I had turned on earlier to set the mood for the day. We also had one self-described "diablesse" (she-devil): Ysabault, from Abby's class at school, who wore a witch's dress and a hideous pumpkin death mask with green hair that made her sound like Darth Vader when she talked. I couldn't understand Darth Vader when he was talking in English. Trying to understand a 9 year-old female Darth Ysabault speaking in French was hopeless. At one point I thought I heard her say "RESISTANCE IS FUTILE", but it turns out she just wanted a piece of candy. After that I asked her to remove the mask.
After about an hour of witches and princess madness, I tried to round them all up to force the "fun" of playing Halloween games on them. They were perfectly happy already, so it was no surprise that we only made it halfway through one round of "mummy hands." (Think hands wrapped in toilet paper trying to sort candy into different bowls). I gave up. Off they went to play again.
I insisted, however, on carving pumpkins. No one had even heard of a Jack-O-Lantern, and after the searching I'd done for pumpkins it became necessary to insist upon pumpkin carving. Or "il faut", as I hear a hundred times a day. The search was not easy. There were no big piles at the grocery store or at Carrefour (think Target or Wal-Mart) like in the states. I did find some teeny ones at a shop called "Botanic" for five euros each. So when I spied the guy with the truck selling potatoes on the side of the road, the flashes of big, fat, orange caught my eye. He had seven decent sized pumpkins and I bought the best five on the spot. It set me back €25 ($37) for five very flat, medium-sized pumpkins, but it was for the great cause of HALLOWEEN!
You can see that these pumpkins are not your typical US Halloween Carving Pumpkins. No shiny, bright orange skin, tall and fat, just waiting for a face or an elaborate cut out of a witch on a broomstick. Ours were much shorter, not super duper orange, and the insides were so gloopy the girls squealed in disgust and delight trying to scoop them out.
Abby's French tutor, Thierry (with whom, as far as I can tell she only speaks English), actually did an excellent job carving his Jack-O-Lantern. The mouth was carved underneath the pumpkin, but I thought his effort was otherwise outstanding. Incidentally, in this photo Thierry looks exactly like a monk, but those were in fact his normal clothes.
A Monk & a French-O-Lantern
Between the pumpkin carving, eating gobs of candy that people had brought to share (Dave said that many parents asked if they could bring something, so he just told them to bring a bag of candy), along with the witch's brooms I made from pretzels and fruit rollups, strawberries dipped in white chocolate (little ghosts!) and the pizzas we made, no one left hungry. Sadly, only one clementine was eaten, and not a single Ritz spider--must have been the peanut butter, since literally no one eats peanut butter here. That I've met anyway. In fact, I had my peanut butter shipped in two months ago when my mom visited from Ohio.
But the greatest thing about this party was that everyone in Sophie's class brought her a gift. It was a sea of Pet Shop, My Little Pony, Dora the Explorer and other wondrous things that delight a six year old, especially when it is not even her birthday! Needless to say, Abby was extremely annoyed. I asked Stephanie about the gift thing and she said, "the girls in Sophie's class must have thought it was her birthday. Nobody has a party here unless it's your birthday." Abby said, "Maybe I should throw a Thanksgiving party and I'll get an iPod". Smarty pants.
All in all, I think the party was a success. Lots of smiling girls running around having a great time, not a tear shed and no wardrobe malfunctions. And the very next week Abby was invited to have a sleepover with the She-Devil. Hooray! Our little plan worked.