There are many joyful events in one’s life, but the yearly birthday party is at the top of the list for some. I’ve been trying to remember the last real birthday party my parents hosted for me and can only recall snippets of perhaps a pin-the-tail on the donkey, a huge homemade cake and plenty of boxes filled with Barbie accessories.
My heart was remembering those days of birthday excitement as I made my way to a birthday party last week. (These days it’s not quite as exciting, unfortunately.) I opened the wooden gate at the front of her yard and walked into the party with great excitement. I was thrilled to see so many children I knew throwing homemade Frisbees, shouting, laughing and playing chase in the large yard that wrapped around the stone cottage. I scanned the crowd looking for Lily when I spotted her running from a swarm of children intent on reaching the birthday girl. She was laughing joyfully as she had so many days last year, and it didn’t surprise me.
I greeted parents, grandparents, children and friends over the course of the party, and shared some of the stories that kept us all smiling all year. And because I learned in kindergarten how important it is to share, I’d like to share with you some of the golden nuggets that will keep me laughing for the rest of the summer.
I give you words of wisdom from first grade (in case you might have missed them the first time):
• “In first grade I want to read more and do better math. Oh, and juggle fire.”
• “Wait, what was that? It was confusicating.”
• Anna: “I always use contraptions in my writing.”
• “Can I bring dung balls to the picnic to throw if we get attacked?” Sure, Lily, you sure can.
• “I was born to scribble!”
• “Wait, is that Dr. Seuss’ profile pic?” asked Izzi.
• “I have to tell you about the best part of the bike trip. It was the Mountain Momma. You know why it was the best? We didn’t have to wear underwear!”
• “You know,” said Augustus, “sometimes I shed my skin.”
• “Hey Ms. Marsh, my dad uses Index to kill stinkbugs. You should try it.”
• “That just popped out of my brain and I didn’t even know I knew it!”
• One day when I was moving some of the desks around, the kids came back from music early. They looked at the room in surprise, and one of them shouted, “What in the name of Jesus are you doing?” I decided to leave that particular comment alone. (And now I’m laughing about it.)
• “I’m right handed, but I’ve adopted my left.”
• After directing one of the boys to “think about” his actions out on the playground, he looked me in the eye, “You know, when I grow up and get married, you are not invited to my wedding!”
• “Ms. Marsh, was she tetter-tolling on me? Cause I didn’t do what she said I did.”
• “I went to the dentist and I have four cavities!” Devin said. “I have to go back in June and get my feelings.”
• “My mom says if my brother swears in front of the teacher again I get his iPod. I can’t wait!”
• “My dad says I can’t do yoga. He says when I do yoga, I do bad things.”
• While we were sitting at reading centers one little fella looked at me and said, “What is that thing on your lip?” I explained that it was a mole, which was kind of a big freckle. One little girl looked at him, “Yeah, only witches have those.” I tried to say that I wasn’t a witch. She looked at me and said, “Well, that’s what you say.”
I see many of the children from Room 252 throughout the summer at the pool, the park, the arboretum, Children and Youth Day at Arts Fest, the library and the supermarket. When they run to me with outstretched arms and huge smiles exclaiming that they miss school, I know I’ve done my job. Knowing that they love school is a wonderful gift, and while it’s not quite my birthday, I treasure that gift more than any that are wrapped and stacked around my cake. (If only it didn’t have to hold so many darn candles.)
Debbie Marsh is a first-grade teacher at Easterly Parkway Elementary School in State College. She can be reached at email@example.com, walking the boardwalk at Millbrook Marsh or enjoying the new childrens garden at The Arboretum at Penn State.