"Surprise!" yelled dozens of voices while the lights flashed and colorful balloons were thrown at my face.
"Happy Birthday to you..." started one voice and then another and then the rest of my class.
I beamed while taking a deep breath and placing my hand on my heart to show them that this meant something to me. When they had headed to recess I had gone to the bathroom. (My room is the farthest from a bathroom in the entire school and takes strategic planning to stay hydrated and not longingly look at the tree outside my window.) I had been stopped along the way and was returning at the very end of recess to pick them up. Going directly to where they line up is faster than returning to my room, crossing my room, and going out the outside door, but when I arrived on the hard court they were no where to be found. I figured someone else had brought them in, so I headed to the door.
How had they even known it was my birthday? I am pretty tight lipped about it, but in January we were talking about my husband not having to work on his birthday when we lived in Jordan as it happens to be the same day as the king. I then mentioned how lovely it was to not have to work on my birthday when we lived in Lebanon as it is on Teachers' Day. Someone must have looked it up and remembered; for a ten year old, that is impressive.
And they were so proud of themselves (and excited to have a party!) A couple of tables were laden with treats while my desk was covered in presents and homemade cards and signs. I grabbed some chocolate and a few chips and then opened each gift. Students continued to bop balloons around the room while either watching my every more or devouring treats or both.
My favorite gift was a sign with "25 Reasons Why We Love Mrs. Lonheim". They had each taken a colored square and put a reason. Some were generic, but some were oozing with voice and I knew who had written it before I saw the child's name. This is now up on the bulletin board next to my desk - a reminder of their kindness on my birthday.