Saturday, December 6, 2008

Birthdays, Then and Now

I am celebrating a birthday in a couple of months. And the number is kind of a big one. I have found that if I practice saying it a couple of times a day in the months leading up to the fateful day, it is easier to accept it once I get there.

One of my students turned 4 yesterday. She walked onto the campus her head held high, a spring in her step, and a smile that lit up her face. As she walked up to me, I said, "Whose celebrating a birthday today?". The look she gave me was a mixture of disdain and pity.

"Mrs. V., of COURSE it is me. Can't you tell by looking at me that I turned 4 today?"

I love how little ones look so forward to getting older and getting bigger. I love how each birthday represents an achievement, and an automatic check in the "I am more grown-up" column. And how once they reach these landmark birthdays, they look back on their younger years with such nostalgia.

"I remember when I was three, I didn't know how to take turns" one little boy said to me earlier this week, shaking his head as he looked at his classmates squabbling over a block. "Now, that I am four, I know how to share." It should be noted that he has been 4 for about 10 days.

The age technique is one that I keep in my arsenal of Behavior Management Tools. Few words have the affect on a 4-year-old as "Wow, for a minute there, I thought you were three again". The usual reaction is one of horror, like being three was just this side of prison, and then the mistaken behavior usually ends immediately. "I didn't mean to take the firetruck from you and then hit you on the head with it."

I would like to pinpoint the exact age when getting older and getting bigger is no longer an achievement, but an embarrassment.

"Happy Birthday! I had no idea it was your birthday until I looked up your Facebook page. How old are you?"

And you either answer...

"...cough..forty cough..cough four" into your hand


"None of your business! I am changing my Facebook profile this intstant!!"

Why can't I answer, with my head held high, a confident spring in my step and a smile that lights up my face, "I am 44! And I remember when I was 43, I was embarrassed about my eye wrinkles. But now that I am 44, I know that eye wrinkles rock!!"

*marin thinks about changing her attitude about her birthday. those 3-year-olds have the right idea, I think...*


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