07 October 2008

The very big birthday party goes bust

My class has been counting down for months. October 7th - the very big birthday party. A birthday party is never something to turn your nose up at, but this fell in a category all its own. October 7th doesn't just have one class 8 birthday, but two.

Celebrating both Danny and Amy's birthdays at the same time meant two class periods of party time instead of one. It meant twice as much singing, twice as much gift giving, twice as many candles, and we dared to hope for twice as much cake.

That's why we were all a little disappointed this morning when Danny and Amy explained to us that there would only be one cake. "Two cake - very, very many cake," said Amy. "Eat it and tummy is ouch."

Danny picked up the thread, "Amy mommy is Kid's College coming - birthday cake. My mommy is cookie and fruit."

Oh the cruel sensibility of the situation!

It turned out to be for the better. Amy's mom brought an enormous chocolate cake with Amy and Danny's names frosted on the top. After about twenty minutes of photo shoot time (see Korean obsession with photo documentation) and lighting the candles, singing, and blowing them out twice, we cut and served to all of the students, except for one. Poor little Jennifer - allergic to chocolate.

As soon as I said, "Sorry Jennifer, you can't have the cake because it's chocolate, but here are some rice cakes." a most unexpected thing happened. A little girl burst into bitter tears. That part wasn't unexpected, of course. The unexpected thing was that the frantic crying was coming from behind me as Jennifer resignedly accepted her plate of non-chocolate treats in front of me.

I turned around to see Yoona, one of my new students and the youngest in the class, screaming around an open mouth full of chocolate frosting. No one knew what was wrong, but it was clear that Yoona was doing everything she could to not swallow her bite of dessert, so my teacher helper rushed over with a napkin for Yoona to spit it into. The Korean staff took her out for a drink of water and to find out what happened.

"She's afraid of melamine." Yoona's mom told her not to eat any chocolate because of the melamine issues in China. Yoona had forgotten until she'd heard me witholding chocolate from her classmate. As soon as the explanation came back to us, Sophia and Lynn remembered that they weren't supposed to be eating chocolate either and switched to bananas and rice cakes as well. The atmosphere of the room grew somber as one after another students set down their spoons and pushed away their plates of cake. Only two students finished theirs.

Good thing we didn't have two cakes.

The melamine scare ruined the very big birthday party. Thanks a lot melamine scare!

It's interesting to have such young children so aware of this issue. I have to throw in one more story. Yesterday afternoon I was starving, so I ran downstairs between classes to buy a bag of nacho chips at the corner market store. A former student of mine, 8-year-old Lisa, was walking past and saw me holding the bag of chips. "Those aren't healthy Ms. Denice. They have Melamine in them." I smiled at her, but didn't respond. She kept walking, but as she passed the second door of the market she turned and shouted, "Don't eat those Ms. Denice, unless you want to die!"

I'm afraid I ate them anyway. Apparently my powdered nacho cheese craving outweighs my concerns form my own safety.


Ninny Beth said...

yes. once I was doing a science class fieldtrip to the river. Everything was fine until a bird came into our path...at which point 5 first graders began kicking and punching at the bird and screaming, "AI, AI!" I thought they were referencing that spielberg movie until I realized they thought this bird was going to give them Avian Influenza. That's right, bird flu. They then told me that their mom's had told them to stay inside so that they didn't catch it. xoxoxo Korea.

Kristina and Brett said...

melamine scare? is this only in korea or do i just never watch the news?

I can't imagine turning down chocolate cake.