The Boy For Whom All The World's A Stage had a birthday on Friday. Being as the Cheerful Teaching Assistant and I are masters at learning the truth, we were able to glean this information early. All we had to do was pay attention to the countdown announcements broadcast to the entire classroom on a daily basis for the last three weeks. It was really a simple matter of deduction.
As the day drew nigh, TBFWATWAS grew more and more excited. His energy levels rose exponentially. By Thursday, he was in high gear and experiencing rampant mood swings. We'd discussed getting a cake for him because that seemed like the thing to do under the circumstances. As a result, all education stopped in order that he might make lists of cake preferences. He also used the class white board to demonstrate the proper way to make a Jell-o cake. The CTA and I made the mistake of laughing.
Before we knew it, we were being informed that he did not want a cake from the likes of us. We were not fit to bake for him, nor were we the sort of folk he would allow to enter a bakery on his behalf. He turned his back on us in utter disdain. I looked tiredly at the CTA and said softly, "But I want cake..."
TBFWATWAS whirled around with his hands clutched over his heart and beamed at us. His eyes shone and he cried out:
OMIGOD, SO DO I! I WANT IT SO BAD! IT'S ALL I CAN THINK ABOUT! I LOVE CAKE...LOVE IT!!!!
He said all this in one breath and now stood gasping before us, still clutching his confection-loving heart. What else could we do? Cake it was.
The day did not go as well as we'd hoped. The bowling trip we'd planned was suddenly cancelled without warning and the class was bitterly disappointed. The CTA and I scrambled to find other activities to reward the good behavior everyone showed during the course of the week. The rains poured down, preventing outside fun and no one could agree on what movie to watch. Bitter arguments broke out and there were numerous references to everyone's mother.
From my standpoint, things were going about as well as we could expect. I never get planning periods and probably shouldn't have believed that the kids would be out of the room for a few hours and happily bowling so I could finish the testing paperwork. My playing referee and defending mothers I don't even know whilst getting further and further behind in my filing is par for the course.
However, the regular "It Is My Birthday And You All Have To Do What I Want" announcements were a new twist to the whole Friday schedule. I suppose it's nice to have things shaken up every now and again...
By 11:00, we'd finally managed to get things settled down and most of the kids were watching a movie. TBFWATWAS was pacing and staring out the window a lot, but we were pretty much used to his manic birthday ways by then. He was just a background noise waiting for cake at that point.
I knit a sock. The CTA broke out her new knitting loom and worked on a hat. Nothing got done and I defy anyone to say one thing about it. I'll fight you to the death over it, if it comes to that. Birthday Angst is draining. Even if it isn't yours.
We had cake after lunch. It was good, but not as good as we'd been lead to believe it would be. Somehow, that cake had been blown up into something of epic proportions over the last few days. I honestly don't know how I managed to get caught up in the Birthday Hype. But I did...
When the day was done and the little darlings were gathering their things to leave, the CTA and I exchanged a weary look. I don't think either of us was really fully conscious by then. But I think I heard her say something like, "Well...at least on Monday we won't have to hear the birthday countdown anymore, right?"
I was happy for a few seconds. And then I had a dreadful thought. If you are The Boy For Whom All The World's A Stage, are you really the type to exit stage left? I think not. I think that sort of boy might want to stick around for an encore or two.
Which means that Monday, he will probably start the birthday countdown again. And it will be almost a whole year before it is over...
The Story of the Sweatshop
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