I have a new class of fourth graders, and yesterday I realized that though they are a great group of kids, we haven't quite bonded yet.
Yesterday was my sixtieth birthday. Normally, I would be feeling a mixture of boredom and mild repulsion with the whole idea of turning sixty, but I'm developing some serious health issues that warrant a more thoughtful approach to aging, and maybe I'll blog about them later. Just know that I'd rather not think about another birthday, especially now when I think of my age, the first number is a 6.
I tried to keep my birthday a secret at the elementary school where I teach. I didn't even turn in the Personal Information Form to the office, because it contained my birth date. However, someone got wind of it, and two kind and thoughtful parents brought warm, delicious, homemade, chocolate cupcakes. I have blogged about surprise birthday parties before, and these parents know about my birthday parties, so they surprised me like I surprise the kids. The class sang "Happy Birthday," and we had a quick, impromptu party.
Kids were wishing me a Happy Birthday, and one of them, Jamie, came up to me and said, "Here, Mr. W. Here's a present for you. Happy Birthday!" He was proudly holding a dollar bill or two rolled up like a cigarette. I'm not gonna take a kid's money, so I looked at Jamie and said, "I think it's wonderful and generous of you to want to give me a present, Jamie, but I don't want your money. You know what I want?"
Jamie smiled at me and asked, "What?"
There were a couple of parents nearby, so I gave him a warm smile back and said, "I want a hug."
You should have seen his face drop. His happy, cheerful smile just slid right off his face like watered down pancake syrup off a cold, short stack. There was an awkward silence, followed by an intermission, so to speak, of the fun and festivities, so to save him from further agony, I asked, "Jamie, would you rather just give me the money?"
He perked right back up and said, "Oh yeah!"
I laughed, and I'm sure he didn't know why. I told him thanks, but I wasn't going to take his money.
I think Jamie and I need a whole year before its hug time, and even then, it'll be a Man Hug.