Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Special Day

At J's school, they don't celebrate birthdays in class. They've decided that since not everyone has a birthday during the school year, they'll assign each child a "special day" instead. Yes, I know it sounds a little corny, but when you're 5, it's pretty awesome. Today was J's much anticipated turn to have a special day.

I've been preparing for some time for this big event. One of the special day privileges is bringing a treat of the child's choice to share with the class that day. J gave this a lot of thought over the past month or so, but eventually decided he wanted bat brownies. I was a little skeptical that I could pull that off, but gave it an effort. I don't own a bat shaped cookie cutter, but turned to my Facebook friends and managed to come up with two. Sunday I planned to make a trial batch and see how it turned out. I realized that morning that I was out of eggs, so the kids and I made a run to the grocery store on the way to church. That afternoon, I baked the brownies in a large, flat pan trying to get them as thin and cookie like as possible so they could be cut out with cookie cutters. I ate a fair amount of batter before it went into the pan to try to help with that. Regardless, they came out too thick and "cakey" to work well being cut into shapes. I had to eat half the pan that day so as to not let them go to waste. (Chalk it up to baby weight.)

I explained the situation to J (who along with H ate most of the other half of the pan), and talked him into bat cookies instead. He was agreeable. That night I made a big batch of sugar cookie dough to roll out the next day. This is a recipe I've made dozens of times and never had a problem with in the past. Monday, however, when I went to roll it out, it felt like trying to roll out a stick of butter. It was very hard until it warmed up slightly, then it was very gooey. I persevered, and baked a pan of them anyway. It was a lot like baking butter. They came out in soupy globs. Not quite the bat shape I had been hoping to achieve. I figured I must not have put enough flour in, so I added some more. Unfortunately, I added all I had left in the house before it seemed the right consistency, and that left me none left for rolling them out. Back to the grocery store we went again.

That night after the kids were in bed, I managed to finally produce several dozen cookies that held their bat shape and tasted mighty fine. It went pretty smoothly from there as far as decorating them, and the final results were enough to excite any preschool class.


Another special day expectation is to share pictures with the class. They "suggest" that you mount these on poster board for ease of viewing. I, being the very compliant person that I am, went along with that suggestion. I, also being the somewhat forgetful person that I am, didn't think to buy poster board during any of my other recent trips to the store, so for the third time in as many days, I made a quick trip out to get some. It took me back to my school days, making a poster for a presentation. The staying up late the night before to finish it part was reminiscent of that as well.

On the morning of the big day, family or other special guests come to school with the special child. Mommy, Daddy, H, Grandma, and Papa all came for J's day. The special guests get to sit in chairs while the rest of the class sits on the floor. The special guests get to sit in chairs designed to be used by preschoolers. H was comfortable, but the rest of us were not sorry that it was a fairly short program!

They invite you to share special stories about your child, and I had planned to do that around the pictures we brought. I had pictures of when he was a baby. I planned to tell how excited we were about our first-born child, how we lived in a different state then, how old J was when we moved here, and how much he likes it because now we're close to his beloved Grandparents. I had pictures of him playing all the sports he likes, and was going to tell stories about swimming in Papa's pool, his awesome bowling skills, how one of his first words was "bakaball" (basketball), and how he loves riding his bike. I had pictures of J and H and was going to tell about the day they first met and what a good big brother he is (generally speaking). I had pictures of our recent family vacations, and was going to share the things he liked best on those trips. I also had some representative of his superhero obsession. (That is, by the way where the bat theme for the snacks came from - his favorite superhero, Batman).

I am the opposite of my husband when it comes to public speaking. He prefers to use few, if any notes and can wax eloquent for a 40 minute sermon referencing only the text he's preaching from. I prefer to write out what I'm going to say word for word, go over it enough times to have it nearly memorized, and keep my notes tightly clenched in my hand for reference throughout the talk. I'll be darned if I was going to show up to talk about my own son to a bunch of 3, 4, and 5 year olds unprepared, and so I had my type written presentation in hand when I arrived.

When it came time to show the pictures, however, Miss Jessica threw me for a loop by asking J to tell the class about what we'd brought. He proceeded to go through and talk about each one for 2 seconds or so, stealing all my thunder. Instead of hearing well planned stories designed to evoke tears and laughter, they got "This is me when I was a baby. This is another picture of me when I was a baby. This is me with H. This is me with H. This is me with H. This is me batting, bowling, swimming..." When he was done, Miss Jessica asked if we had any special stories we wanted to share about J when he's not at school. I crumpled my notes, and stammered something about him having just told about all the things I'd planned.

There are some other traditions that go along with the special day ceremony. Since it's a pseudo-birthday party, they recognize the child's age. The child gets to carry the globe of his choice around the candle/"sun" in the middle of the circle while all the children sing, "The earth goes round the sun, the earth goes round the sun, the earth goes slowly round the sun and (insert child's name here) was one," to the tune of "The Farmer in the Dell." They repeat this as many times as the child is years old, since the earth has gone around the sun that many times now since they were born. When it's done, J got to use the snuffer and put out the candle/sun - which the kids all think is totally cool. I found it a little amusing that Miss Laura made a point of asking J to stop once on each lap since he's 5 and might get dizzy after going around the circle that many times. Amusing to me, because I see this same kid tear around the house in circles for hours without ever becoming dizzy. Oh well, I suppose if there were ever going to be a first time, you wouldn't want it to be around a candle.

The grand finale of the special day ceremony is bringing presents to share with the class. Traditionally the gift is a book of some kind. We stuck with tradition, although Elle's parents recently set the bar pretty high by bringing a mini-fridge for the class on her special day. Not wanting to be totally cheap in comparison, we at least brought 2 books. J unwrapped the first one, and I explained why he'd chosen it. H had had enough of formality by this point. She jumped off Papa's lap and started yelling, "What did I get! I want a present too!" To avoid a bigger scene, we let her open the second book.

It was then time for us to go. J got to help Miss Jessica prepare the snack he'd brought for the other children. He got to wear a "special day" arm band to remind everyone that he was special that day. And he got to go first when it came time to choose which "work" he was going to do. He opted to go right to snack. That's my boy!

I will admit, I thought the whole thing was a little goofy when I first heard about it. But after watching my little boy have such a great time having his special day, I'm sure I enjoyed it just as much as he did. I had a happy little spring in my step all day and just wanted to keep on celebrating my wonderful kids.

Thank you, God, for making me a Mommy!

2 comments:

Jenny said...

Great story!

Lori said...

The bats look fabulous! It's making me kinda hungry. You are great at writing down your thoughts. I think your as funny as your little babies.