Birthday Cupcakes

Posted: 8th November 2017 by kkeerybi in Uncategorized

Tonight I have been working on making cupcakes because I need them for breakfast tomorrow.  Yep, that’s right.  Breakfast.

Several years ago, it was the eve of one of my kids’ birthdays.  Figuring out our schedule was always tricky; two busy educator parents plus four active kids meant problem solving daily to figure out how to get everyone where they needed to go, plus fed, plus rested before the start of a new whirlwind of a day.  On that day, I hit a problem solving wall.  There was no way we would all be home after school the next day for a birthday dinner.  The only time we would all be home, and at least partially awake, was at 6:45.  In the morning.  For 15 minutes.

Now I know this admission will not make me mother of the year, but that’s my life.  However, I plugged ahead with making the cupcakes birthday kid asked for and ordered everyone to be in the kitchen at 6:45 a.m.  There was groaning and grumbling.  There may have even been eye rolling or foot stomping.  But, in the morning, in various states of dress and school-readiness, all six of us were in the kitchen.  We lit some candles, sang off key as only family members can do, and ate sugar-laden cupcakes before orange juice, toast or cereal.  For that few minutes, we enjoyed our sugar and company before running off in all different directions.

The next kid’s birthday approached and we asked what he/she wanted to do.  The answer?  Cupcakes for breakfast.

Since then, we have had cupcakes for breakfast whenever someone has been home for their birthday.  We’ve eaten them in a road side stop in West Virginia, at the cottage, and of course, around our kitchen island as we rush around getting ready for school.  For a few minutes, we cling to this simple tradition that grew out of necessity (or parental desperation) one day long ago.

As I made my cupcakes tonight, it reminded me of all of the traditions we have in school.  Each school and classroom has any number of events and procedures that become meaningful traditions in the eyes of the students, staff and families that participate.  From the outside, they may look silly or simple; the way a teacher greets her students at the door each morning with a catch phrase, the game the class always plays when they want to celebrate some success, the song the kindergarten class sings (adorably) every winter concert.

When we ask our kids “what did you do at school today?”, the simple pleasures of school aren’t likely to be talked about, or if they are, to be understood by those people outside of the experience.  Instead, our kids tell us about the extraordinary – good and bad, like the problems they had with a peer or the super awesome game they won in phys ed.  But, as someone who gets to observe, and when I’m lucky participate in, some quiet, mundane, amazing traditions in a school every day, I have to tell you that these are the moments that help build a school and class community.  These are the heartbeat of a school; the steady pump that pushes life through the system.  They are so critical and yet rarely noticed because they just quietly keep doing their job.

What makes the heartbeat of your school?  What are those understated but really important birthday cupcakes that define – and enrich – your experience?

  1. adunsige says:

    Kristi, your post really resonated with me because my teaching partner, Paula, has the same tradition in her house. She even told the kids about it last year, and some others started this early morning cake/cupcake tradition. I always wondered why people might do this, but your post answers that. It also reminds me that as we share traditions (orally or in writing), we can inspire others to try something new, or be inspired by what others share. There’s something special about this!

    As for our classroom traditions, they include many songs (from the forest lineup song to the Zippety zipper song that we sung a lot last year, and I still think about this year). They also include the Dance Tidy, which makes cleaning up sooo much better! Curious to hear about other people’s traditions. Once again, I’m reminded you about the importance in sharing.