That kind of shallow mockery for a birthday party just doesn't cut the mustard at the academy Shane and I teach at here in Busan. On one magical Thursday each month, the kindergarten masses gather for
Seven classes gather in the auditorium and "sit nicely" in "rows". The children who have a birthday that month are corralled in the hallway until they are called one by one to make grand entrances. Once posed in front of all the other kids, they're asked through a chant, what they want to be when they grow up. These 5, 6, and 7 year olds have a much better sense of direction than I did at that age because responses have included singer, artist, business man, driver, dentist, and cowgirl.
After the interviews, classes showcase their talents with a choreographed song and dance number. The song might be a beloved children's song, like Skinamarink or it might just as well be one of ABBA's finest hits. Really adorable.
Then, when all classes have exhibited their dance prowess, the birthday kids are seated in front and birthday hats are plunked on their heads.
During the last leg of birthday party comes the cake parade. The cakes are store bought, and they are glossy, elaborate, and beautiful, and not as overly sweet as American b-day cakes. We sing happy birthday several times over, long enough for the kiddos to have their picture taken for the personalized yearbooks that will come out at the end of the year. Funny enough, the kids look like they're having fun, until the camera's on them. Then it's all straight faces until the cake is served with lunch.
The children love birthday party, and their excitement usually begins days before the party itself. It's nice to be surrounded with such joy. The power of cake is universal.