It was during the Christmas cookies and punch in the State Dining Room yesterday that Gleb Davydov and Sacha Zotov, two Russian boys, began mulling over the differences between the White House and the Kremlin.
"The White House is one building," said Davydov, who turns 12 today. "The Kremlin is very old and it is made from several towers. The Kremlin is kind of a fort."
"We also have the pictures of Lenin," said Zotov, 10.
"They have a lot of pictures of presidents," said Davydov. He looked up at the gold chandelier. "And we have a lot of lamps like that."
A reporter remarked that they were among the very few children in the world who'd been both places. "I think that I'm a special boy," said Zotov, somberly and respectfully.
Around them were 375 darting 6- to 11-year-olds, all invited to the White House for the annual party for children of the diplomatic corps. There were trees with twinkling white lights in the East Room, a gingerbread house in the State Dining Room, a fire in at least one fireplace and a band that played "O Little Town of Bethlehem." There was also Christian the Magician, who sawed a glamorous lady in three pieces.
"EEEEUUUUUUWWWWW," they said when Christian opened the box to show that the lady had no middle.
Nancy Reagan was with the kids on the East Room floor, watching too. "I didn't think she was going to sit on the floor," said an impressed Marie Laurion Valladares from Venezuela.
"You all look so pretty," said Nancy Reagan after the show. "And now, we can disappear into the other room and have something to eat."
They did, fast. The cookies vanished in minutes.
"I guess this is a pretty big house," said Karina Gil from Venezuela. "It's bigger than I expected." Gil had been called upon by Christian to imitate a chicken during the magic show.
"I really wasn't as good as I wanted to be because I have a cold," she said.