Birthdays and Classrooms Don’t Mix Well

This morning, I thought that today would be a relatively easy day. Two of the five kindergarten lessons I would normally have were going to be replaced with a birthday party (of my most well-behaved child, no less) and a celebration for St. Patrick’s Day. In theory, this seemed like it would be significantly less stress and work than the average day. In practice, while it probably was slightly less work, these unique events came with their own problems and stresses.

A birthday party at our school is a singular experience. The entire class (teacher included) goes to the eating area, where the child’s parent has provided a cake and, in this particular case, an assortment of fruit and juice boxes. The children then take turns giving the presents that they have brought with them to the child whose birthday it is. Following this, the teacher (me) is given a board with a number of pictures of the birthday child. They are then expected to give a short speech to the other children about the birthday child’s life. In my case, this was a lot of bumbling sentences such as “Well, here she is as a baby!” and “Oh look, here she’s playing with her…uh…sister?”. Finally, everyone is given their allocated amount of the communal snacks, and gorges on their deliciousness.

Throughout the entire process, the teacher’s assistant hovers, taking rapid-fire photographs for purposes unknown. A child eating their cake. Teacher embarrassing themselves. Teacher embarrassing themselves again. A child dropping their food. More embarrassment. Children passing gifts. Everyone smiling together on the happy occasion. What was meant to be a touching, personal experience given by the school became a photo shoot for future campaigns. This tainted the experience slightly. For me, anyways. The kids were too busy filling every possible food cavity in their bodies with cake.

Once the song and dance of the birthday party was completed and I’d had a brief break, the entire school paraded into the gym. The kids were instructed to sit quietly in straight, neat lines. This quickly turned into a coagulated mass of children mumbling at a volume slightly below screaming. In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, the children were all dressed in green. Or, they were meant to, at least. The spirit levels ranged from a child whose name was emblazoned in green felt across their chest to a debatably green shirt worn with disdain. Each class took turns to walk up onto the stage, where each child said their name and informed the school that they were wearing green clothes. It was a cute ceremony, and it took up time. My class only mildly misbehaved, momentarily refusing to walk up onto the stage. I should have taken this misbehaviour as an omen for what was to come.

The remainder of the day was spent trying to reign in three small children fueled by various kinds of sugar, fruit, and cake. It was not a fun time. I expected them to have all of their energy burned out from the day’s excitement. Alas, they had not yet begun to burn through their resources. At least I had gym at final period, where I could simply let them loose and scolded them if they were too loud.

All in all, today was not an overly unpleasant day, but I will certainly remember their state post-sugary-treats for the future. Next time, I’ll eat all the damn cake. Particularly if it’s good cake. Mmmm, cake.

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