I am selfish when it comes to my birthday. I like the celebration: food, family, funny hats, laughter, kindness, cake with ice cream. Life is good. Birthdays are great.
This birthday is especially great because I don’t have cancer. I was worried. I hurt my shoulder last spring. Even with physical therapy and cortisone shots and strength training, it was still waking me up at two in the morning six months later. It hurt. Sometimes the pain ran down my arm to my fingernails or up the side of my neck to circle my scalp. It reminded me of a family friend. He thought he’d hurt himself moving. He had a deep ache in his shoulder. It was too late when doctors discovered it wasn’t a pulled muscle.
I am lucky. My shoulder was torn. After I shared my fears with my doctor he sent me for a scan. He was surprised by the size and seriousness of the tears. I was relieved. The older I get, the more I want to celebrate.
I’d like to do a better job celebrating my students’ birthdays. I don’t have a birthday ritual or class chart, something my son’s teachers did so well. I don’t have a special read aloud for school or a poem or note or a birthday hat (The hat is likely out of the question, I know, but I do love a little whimsy.)
I once read a column about a veteran who kept a list written about him by his classmates in his pocket or wallet all through the Vietnam war. It was a list of compliments or good wishes or kindnesses or it was all of those things. He walked through war with those good wishes on his person and in his mind. I want to give gifts like that.