I thought I had hit the point in my life where birthdays are no longer a day to look forward to. As I inch closer and closer to the big 3-0, each passing birthday feels like a chapter closing in a book. To me it’s become just another day, but to kids your birthday is worth celebrating in a BIG way!
I knew my students were up to something. They were becoming more giggly, they were disappearing to the library during breaks, they were asking questions like, “Do you eat breakfast Mrs. K?” and “What’s your favorite breakfast food?” It became even more telling the week of my birthday when they suddenly had a huge project for another teacher and needed to spend their recesses in the library. One morning, the bell rang while I was still in the library when my kids came barreling down the stairs. They stopped dead in their tracks, wide eyed and completely startled to see me. Julia, who happens to shine under pressure, stepped up to the plate saying, “Oh, Mrs. K! I’m so glad you’re here! I need your help in the classroom. Can you give me some feedback on my realistic fiction story?” The looks on their faces were priceless, and the coast was clear for them to proceed with their top secret mission.
The big day had arrived, and oh what a day it would turn out to be! Soon after I sat down to prepare for the day, I heard some busy little bees in the hallway. Just as I was about to ask them leave, a group of my kids entered my room singing happy birthday and carrying a tray of something I couldn’t see just yet. One student was the designated photographer assigned to document the entire event on film. Another student was tasked with clearing off my desk while three others presented me with my Birthday Breakfast: a plate of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, a glass of peach juice, a bouqet of beautiful paper roses all swimming in a pool of fresh rose petals. I was completely surprised and so touched by their attention to detail. My favorite moment was this comment: “Mrs. K, we made you croissants last night, but we got distracted and we burned them. We know chocolate chip cookies aren’t a breakfast food, but we know they’re your favorite cookie so we made you these instead.” How sweet!
But this was only the beginning. The first break bell rang and my class was nowhere to be found. Courtney, our librarian, found me to say that one of my students needed my help in the hallway. She had injured her leg and needed my help to get to the nurse. Hmmmm, suspsicious. I enter the hallway to find an injured Julia being helped off the floor and saying she should probably just sit down. Right on cue, one of my students opens the classroom door and I’m greeted with the most enthusiastic “Surprise!!!!” I’ve ever heard! I stood in shock for a moment to take it all in. These kids had planned this party completely on their own with NO adult involvement. They had a birthday cake, balloons, drinks, cups, cutlery, napkins, snacks, music, and a handmade booklet with birthday wishes straight from the heart. Our resident DJ had prepared the perfect mix of party tunes to get the party started. Needless to say, there would be no winding down from the excitement of it all, and they came prepared! They had altered our schedule so that third period was party time and they brought Harry Potter to watch fourth period, knowing all too well they would be too energized to “learn”.
“How did I get to be so lucky to have such an amazing group of fifth graders?” I asked them the next day. Their response – “How did we get to be so lucky to have you for a teacher, Mrs. K? We don’t know what we would do without you!”. And you know the best part of all? They cleaned the entire classroom without me having to prompt them. It was all part of the plan.