Posts Tagged ‘birthday’

Birthday Ambush

April 20, 2012


This morning had a rocky beginning.  Thunderstorms blew in around 4:00 a.m., disturbing what was already a restless night’s sleep.  I’ve had too many of those lately.  I rose, went through the morning rituals mindlessly, and honestly forgot that today is my birthday.  I had been aware of it all week, and had already received cards, but was just too brain dead to think about it in this morning’s darkness.

I stumbled into my classroom at 6:50, flipped on the lights, and saw this.  I never saw it coming.  I broke down and cried, and am glad no one came into the room for the next ten minutes or so.  I could not take it all in.  I had been ambushed like this a few months ago, when I found balloons hanging everywhere and sweet sentiments all over my blackboard for being chosen as NHS Teacher of the Month.  I never took those balloons down, so they became rather soft and limp over time, and I thought they really needed to come down, as they were growing unsightly.  But I wanted to hold on to that memory, so they saggingly remained.  So, imagine my surprise this morning when I flipped on the lights, and noticed that the balloons were full again, and there were new streamers!  It was just too much.  It still is.

When you turn 58, you get to a point that you feel that you no longer matter, and teaching in a large school is good for that kind of anonymity.  You just show up and do what you have to do, and when you face an administrative year as bad as this one has been, you spend a lot of time sucking it up, and wishing you had started your career earlier so you could just retire and get this over with.  And then students do something like this behind your back.  For two decades, I’ve heard common talk that students in large suburban schools are thoughtless, full of themselves, and disrespectful of authority.  Sure, there is some of that, I won’t argue.  But I wouldn’t have exchanged yesterday’s Art Club tour group for anyone.  I was proud of them in the museum, and even more proud in the crowded restaurant at lunch–one could not have asked for better, more respectful, enjoyable human beings.  And that also rings true for most of the students in my classes.  I was stunned, reading all the sentiments on the board, and noticing that some of them were from former students that I have not seen in the classroom this semester.  And then the Birthday Card, including a signature from a student who graduated in ’07.  Wow.  Today’s Facebook greetings have also been overwhelming–my BlackBerry has vibrated on my hip all morning!

For years, my daily companions that flood my soul with inspiration are those who have already passed–Paul Tillich, Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Eugene Delacroix–they are not dead to me, they still whisper in my ear those immortal thoughts that keep me believing, keep me going forward.  But today, my students and friends have embraced me and flooded my soul with good will.  And I cannot thank all of you enough.

Thank you for reading.