Birthday Piñatas


Fixing my hair before taking my turn at killing the piñata.

I doubt that many moms today would look kindly upon the practice of allowing a blindfolded kid to swing a bat or other stick-like object with total destruction in mind.   Not to mention, the blindfolded kid first gets spun around until he/she is fully disoriented.  Who doesn’t love a blind disoriented kid swinging a stick in random directions amongst children?  Want a piñata party Ms. White Middle Upper Class Professional Mom?  Might need to sign some legal documents and get an on-call paramedic.

My mom made me a piñata every year until I turned about 8 or 9.  The night before my birthday she stayed up until the wee hours carefully gluing tissue paper onto a paper machete object that originated from a balloon.   She did this with full knowledge that the final work of art would see complete death and destruction within 24 hours.  TALK ABOUT DEDICATION TO THE “PROCESS.”


This guy is a little scary.  Please note: Not the same piñata as the one above but they are definitely siblings.

I don’t know if she had a vision of what the final piñata would look like, but due to the roundish nature of balloons, they usually became a face, often a clown, per the evidence of these pictures.  One time she used a long balloon and we decided to make it a fish or a whale, we weren’t sure…however, everyone thought it was a submarine with a smiley face.


A fish or submarine?

I don’t think my mom was slaving away with resentment at fulfilling her duty.  I don’t doubt that the piñata-making party didn’t involve some wine and cigarettes and friends dropping by to do some gluing and decide what this thing should be.

One year we took a box and made a Rubik’s Cube.  It came out beautifully, but was impossible to crack open.  My dad eventually had to break it open.

My father would control the swing that made sure the piñata wouldn’t be destroyed too soon and that all us kids would have an opportunity to enact blind violence on this purveyor of candy.  He made sure to torture us sufficiently so that every kid got to swing into the air or anywhere before he lowered it.   Eventually, we got tired of the game and wanted to collect the booty.  So he would let someone, usually one of my male cousins, destroy the thing and we all dodged flying Tootsie Rolls. I’m sure more than one party guest got a Jolly Roger in the eye socket.  But that’s where the Budweiser came in.  I remember one year nobody could crack it open and eventually my dad took a bat and beat it to the ground.   Parents had fun too.

Eventually, I must have stopped caring about party games. I wanted sleepovers with other girls where we rented VHS movies like “Valley Girl.”  And my mom could no longer express herself through piñata.



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