Summer birthdays are great. Over the years, I’ve spent my birthday celebrating at the beach, horseback riding, and many, many times with pool parties. I also never really had to worry about whether school would interfere with my birthday plans — I never had to take a big test on my birthday, or study for one, or worry that some school social event would eclipse my birthday.
On the other hand, I never got to celebrate a birthday AT school, with my friends. I only vaguely remember what elementary and middle school birthday celebrations were like. I think there was cake. There might have been balloons. (But I do remember being a little jealous of getting to be celebrated in that way, while simultaneously being profoundly grateful to have never been the center of that kind of focused attention.) It was also pretty common that my friends would be out of town when I was celebrating, which was a bummer.
I passed this problem on to Benjamin. Like me, he has a July birthday, so no amount of extending the school year into June or starting early in August is going to make his birthday fall during school time. Except, that this year, he’s in a “school” that runs all year. Since he started attending kindergarten in September, his classmates’ birthdays have been a high point for him. In the beginning, when he still didn’t “like school too well”, the days when there would be singing and cake would be most likely to send him home with a smile. In November, he started talking about how much fun it would be to celebrate his birthday at school, with his friends, and that was back when I wasn’t sure we were going to stick it out until Christmas, let alone summertime.
This spring, we decided to plan our trip home to the US to include Benjamin’s birthday. In fact, we’ll all be at the beach, celebrating together, when he turns 4. I think it’s going to be fantastic for him, and very special to be surrounded by so many people who love him, especially since gatherings like that aren’t something we get to do here. But, it also means he won’t be at school on his birthday.
I really wanted him to have the “school birthday” experience though, especially since he’s been excited about it for so long. I brought it up to his teachers, a little nervously — I’m completely inexperienced with being a parent of a birthday kid at school, and I really have no idea how things are done here. I needn’t have worried — they, too, wanted to give him a birthday at school, especially when I told them how much he’d been looking forward to it.
A few weeks ago, they told me that they would be celebrating his birthday today — June 25th. He and one of his classmates (also with a summer birthday, who will also be out of town on his big day) would celebrate together. And, surprisingly, they didn’t need me to do anything to prepare. They took care of the cake, the plans, everything. In fact . . . it isn’t something parents are even invited to. (Which was a little weird to me, but that’s ok.)
So, today was the day. B had his first (and possibly only) school birthday celebration! They ate cake (chocolate), wore crowns and played instruments. He had a wonderful time and came home completely worn out.
But, that wasn’t the end of his not-quite-birthday celebration. Since we will be in the States for his actual birthday, and a few of his gifts aren’t easily transportable, we decided to continue his special day here at home. He got to choose the menu for lunch (pizza) and dinner (chicken and rice), we gave him a few presents (including the big one — a bike with pedals) and then we all went out for ice cream this evening.
I think he had a great day. He loves his new bike (although he has mentioned a few times that he isn’t yet very good at pedaling) and I think his celebration at school was really special for him. I’m so glad he got to have a birthday at school, especially since he’s been looking forward to it for so long.
Happy not-quite birthday to my wonderful Benjamin. I hope you had a wonderful day.