I must say, having taught for fifteen years, with hundreds of little darlings in and out of my classroom, that I've pretty much seen it all. But today, twenty-four little ones proved me wrong. And in a good way.
First of all, today is not my birthday. In fact my birthday is over ten months away, and at my age, I really don't want to speed that yearly date up by even one day, let alone months.
So, today, as I crossed into our classroom with the buyers from lunch, my class erupted into a very loud and very silly round of the "Happy Birthday" song. As I half-heartedly tried to shush them, some of them circled around me and soon they got to the part where you sing to the person who is celebrating their birthday, and they all shouted, "Happy Birthday, Mrs. Jeppson"....
"It's not my birthday today!" I informed them. But to no avail. They all knew when my birthday was as it is displayed with their birth dates on our colorful birthday board. They sang and sang and it took all of my best teacher effort to finally quiet them down and get them back in their seats. "What in the world?" I asked them, trying hard not to smile. It was after all, very cute.
As I tried to understand twenty or more of them explaining to me all at the same time who had the idea and how fun it was and did I like it and when is my birthday really and on and on and on, I finally said over the noise, "Wellllllllll. If it is my birthday, then I'm wondering where my cards and presents are." That, of course, stopped them mid-sentence. They had not obviously thought this whole fake birthday thing through.
And then they got busy. Before I knew it, I had several cards and a random bag of mini Oreos and half a bag of chips. When I returned to my desk, I found an eraser (used) and several tiny plastic unidentifiable objects. There was a sticker and a few Post-It notes with smiley faces and hearts. Say it with me: Awwwwwwwww.
"Well," I told them. "For an UN-birthday, this sure is the best one I've ever had. You are all so terrific! And a surprise UN birthday on top! Thanks!"
They beamed from ear to ear. They smiled and laughed and I did too. How can you not enjoy such a sweet and kind thing. I knew I liked this class a lot.
Throughout the afternoon I continued to collect a heap of paper cards and random items. At one point, I walked past a student who had a little checklist completed of who had made a card. Apparently he was in charge of making sure they all participated.
My step was a little lighter this afternoon, my mood a little happier. These little ones had put some extra fun into our day and by doing so, had managed to make my day. They had given me a gift that can not be matched. It was better than any birthday gift I've ever received.
As the day ended and one of my students was packing up in the hallway while her mom waited, she grabbed her backpack, turned on her heels and smiled as she waved and said, "Bye! And Happy Birthday, Mrs. Jeppson!" She didn't miss a beat.
Well played today my little ones. Well played.