I hate my birthday. Not because I hate birthdays or getting older; I LOVE celebrating other peoples’ birthdays and often make cakes, send cards and small packages by mail, and call friends. I always remember.
Which is why it’s so painful that the people I love most never remember mine. I’m not on Facebook and my birthday isn’t on any social media, so no one’s getting e-notifications. I’m always so grateful that I have an amazing sister and mom who remember, and they send cards and call, making me feel loved… but every year I go to sleep feeling pretty crummy that most of my friends and partners forgot.
My birthday this year was one of those days when everything went wrong from the minute I woke up; I had a terrible morning. In the afternoon, I was running late to my second job because there’s a transportation strike happening, and I was stressed about time and making sure I had everything I needed for lessons. I rushed in, opened my classroom door, and:
“HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JO!” screamed eleven elementary school kids as they jumped out from behind the furniture, spraying fake snow everywhere. They had decorated the classroom beautifully and made a huge card full of loving notes and drawings. And I sobbed. I just lost it – I’ve wanted a surprise party my whole life, and it came from the most unexpected place. They stared at me, confused. I tried to tell them my tears were happy tears as I kept crying, and they were like, “Teacher, smile! It is a happy day!” It was a gorgeous, shining moment in an otherwise long and draining day… being a teacher is so validating sometimes. I love my students like they’re my children, and when they love me back, it’s the best feeling in the whole world.