You see, the kids at school, even though they are at that wretchedly annoying age of... well, of whatever they are when they're in the 8th grade... have kinda got me... well, okay, it's ike, we have this "birthday ritual" thing that's kind of evolved. It started when I was sort of teasing one of the shy kids about her upcoming birthday, -- and yes, I'm such a harsh and cruel teacher that I actually tease shy kids -- and I made a little sign and tacked it up on the board in front of the room, "XXX's Birthday, (insert date), Bring Presents". Then, on Child-X's birthday, I brought in a helium mylar balloon (which they all seem to really love), which was added to the numerous balloons provided by friends.
After that, some of the other "shy" kids started quietly mentioning, "well, uh, you know, my birthday is coming up on..."
"Okay, make a sign," I told them. So now there are balloons for birthdays, and usually snacks.
Francesca (not her real name, but it's what I really call her) had a birthday this past week. Francesca's really bright, she acts bold, but she's actually shy, sensitive, and cries easily. She's a "brain," which means she doesn't fit in particularly well at our school, and nobody ever understands what she's talking about because she's the kind who reads the encyclopedia for fun and then tries to engage the other students in coversation about what she's read. She may as well be speaking Esperanto for all the response she gets. Francesca also likes to draw. She's begun trying to draw "manga" style characters. When she posted her note on the "birthday board," she scrawled at the bottom something like, "forget the balloons: will somebody PLEASE get me a drawing tablet!"
So, guess what? Francesca got a balloon (shaped like a dolphin), a drawing tablet, and this book for her birthday. The whole class sang 'Happy Birthday" to her (and got Hostess Twinkies). And Francesca cried. She cried while she was laughing.
I am so mean!
(And then you shoulda seen Britney with her "Winnie-the-Pooh' balloon... especially after I told her I was sorry I couldn't find a 'Care Bears' one -- she loves 'Care Bears,' you see. The way some of these kids respond if they get the impression somebody actually cares about them and likes them... but whatevahs: I gotta get the last of our exams graded and recorded this weekend, so I can flunk everybody!!! Then we'll see some real tears! Mwah hah hah hah hah!!!!)