Sunday, March 11, 2012

Keeping up with the Muhammeds (aka Birthdays in Nigeria)

We weren't worried if Prince's Valentines were as good as his classmates'. We weren't worried if his Halloween favors were as good as his classmates'. But birthdays are a bigger deal. So for the first time, we felt pressure to keep up with the neighbors, who in our case are more likely to have a last name of Muhammed/Mohammad than Jones.

This week, one of his classmates had a birthday. He handed out gift bags for all the classmates, as they all do. It included notebooks with the kid's picture printed on them! There was serious high-sugar swag. Prince is always excited when a classmate has a birthday and he gets to bring home the goodie bag. They bring cakes to school to share. His favorite, of course, is the juice box. ?? Odd duck.

We would be happy to make a cake for his class, but you're not allowed to do that anymore, even here. And the professionally made cakes in Yola are, in a word, nasty. One was so burnt, I joked that they had made it a layered cake with light chocolate and dark chocolate. We can't eat them and couldn't in good conscience give one to others. So that was out.

Joy put forward some serious last-minute effort to pull together an appropriate goodie bag that would at least not lower Prince's standing in the class, even if we weren't out to amaze anyone. Juice box, Hob Nobs, various sugary substances, and at Prince's request Tootsie Roll blow pops.

In the end, the thing that he was worried about was whether he got to share the bags with his friends. The teacher handed them out instead of him, so he was worried that he didn't get a chance to share. The bags were given to students only as they walked out the door with their parent, so the sugar high would NOT hit the kids during class.

I stopped by in the morning on my way to campus to drop off the bags and some pictures of Prince (Prince's prints?) so they can spotlight him next week. When I showed up, they stopped class to sing him Happy Birthday, recorded above. I got the video started after the first line of the song.