The Classroom Birthday Party
Kids like birthdays. Teenagers like birthdays. College students like birthdays. Adults claim to hate them. I’m not sure what happens after we graduate college, but it just seems that most adults loathe the idea of getting older. I am not one of those adults. I love celebrating my birthday, I love celebrating my wife’s birthday, and I love that our birthdays are so close together that we celebrate for nearly a week. (I believe in celebrating the day before, the day of, and the day after one’s birthday, which means we celebrate our birthdays from January 25 until January 29. It is pretty awesome.) I also enjoy celebrating the birthdays of friends and family.
So, of course, I am a huge fan of the classroom birthday party. Back when I was in grade school, this usually involved Mum baking two dozen (sometimes with a couple extra) cupcakes, frosting them, and putting them in an easily transportable container to be brought to the class, along with napkins, to announce to my peers that, yes, I was officially a year older. I think I was in fourth or fifth grade when fears of hepatitis first began to grow and baked goods were generally discouraged at school. This continued on for some time, with school-sanctioned PTA bake sales being put to an end and students being asked to provide pre-packaged treats for their birthdays. By the time I was in high school, though, my friends and I discovered the joys of getting together and baking cookies, so we would bring our own homemade goodies in for birthdays and other celebrations all the time. Birthdays, terminal points of the semester, teachers’ birthdays, and just-for-the-heck-of-it were all valid reasons for bringing in treats. And, of course, the cookies that our band director’s mother would make for us after concerts–my friend Rusty and I would regularly joke about getting the lucky silver hair in the chocolate chip cookie.
Good times, indeed.
Today was the first day of the year that someone in our class had a birthday. We actually have birthdays fairly well spread out over the year, so I am sure we will have more birthday parties with some regularity. The class sang to the student who was celebrating the beginning of his ninth year. It was… um… it was interesting. I didn’t sing along with them, but I let them serenade him, and they sang their hearts out. What they lacked in rhythm and tone they made up for with gusto. Good for them!
After singing, the treats (cookies, most of which were sugar-free) were passed out. Then we all turned and watched as the birthday boy took his cookie and took a bite. I did what I always do: announced it as a play-by-play:
Okay, let’s all turn and watch as [student] takes a bite of his cookie! He is making his way to his seat… he is picking up his choice… and, oh, there he goes, it is all gone! Happy birthday, [student]! You may all eat your treats now!
Some students drink in their attention and drag it out as long as they can, slowly biting into the treat and making everyone wait for that first bite to be finished. Others just chow down and stuff it all in their mouth at once. Today’s birthday boy was definitely in the latter category. Everyone enjoyed their cookies, then, after a quick drink break, they jumped into games, reading, writing, drawing, and puzzling–being Friday, it was time for Read, Write, Think! I brought in a few games for the class, and was very glad to see nearly everyone participating in something that had them actively using their minds.
All in all, today was a fairly good end to a fairly good week. I actually have to go into the room to do a bit more work tomorrow afternoon to finish preparing for the coming week, but I am going to be able to spend most of my weekend relaxing and enjoying the beautiful weather. And the Urbana Sweetcorn Festival. My wife and I will be helping out in one of the booths selling festival t-shirts and hats. If you are in the area, I hope you’ll stop by; we’ll be there from about 5-8 pm.