Birthdays Save the Day
by Jenny Franklin
We all remember those
magical Elementary School days when someoneís mom would
show up with trays of cupcakes and brownies, or everyone
would bring in some delicious treat, there would be soda
and lunch in the classroom, and the day would be filled
with general, teacher-approved chaos.
Birthday party days were the
best days, but for some kids who were unfortunate enough
to be born in that window of summer, the day to abandon
work in their honor never came. Oh, sure, they would get
a party that took the whole afternoon, or a trip to a
waterpark since school was no obstacle, but it isnít
quite the same. They longed to see the teacher put that
chalk away because today, we celebrate their birthday!
I know this so well because
my younger sister was born in July, and when she was
very young she felt left out from the in-school
festivities. She and the other summer kids would have to
spend several nights each year baking treats with their
parents to celebrate someone else, and it was hard to
forget that their classmates would never be asked to do
the same for them.
Half-birthday parties offer the perfect
solution to this problem, ensuring that no child is left
birthday-less for the duration of the school year. As I
recall, some teachers tried to work around this issue by
having group parties organized by month, but even really
young kids know theyíre losing several of their days of
fun that way, and they were always outraged. On top of
almost inspiring revolution, this method requires some
real work to figure out where to distribute the parties,
and where to cram all the summer kids into the schedule.
Instead of trying to create
some elaborate calendar of evenly distributed, evenly
shared parties, our Second Grade teacher cleverly
celebrated half birthdays. She was, of course, one of
the most beloved teachers at our elementary school,
because she demonstrated in this way that each of her
students had equal value, and she was determined not to
leave anyone out.
Unfortunately for my sister, her birthday is July 1st,
making her half-birthday January 1st. Obviously, they
were not in school for either of those days, and that
wonderful teacher, who never let anyone go unnoticed
felt awful that she was left out. They threw an
extra-special belated half-birthday party to make up for
it, and the teacher was careful to figure out in advance
which days should be celebrated so that the mistake
never happened in the future.
School birthday parties serve two important functions,
and neither should be overlooked. From the kidsí
perspective, they offer a much-needed excuse to avoid a
little work at school and to bond with their friends
over treats and juice boxes. What parents and teachers
should remember is that it is important to take time out
of one day in the school year to honor each child as
special and unique, to celebrate the mere existence of
all of those amazing young people in the same room. And
half-birthdays are the best way to ensure that we arenít
celebrating half of the kids in a classroom and hoping
in vain that the other half donít notice.
Jenny Franklin is a
mother and a party planner. She currently writes
freelance for the girls'
birthday party supplier Party Pail.