At the weekend, it was my birthday. In a strange twist, the main class teacher’s birthday was on the same day. As a class we decided to surprise her on Monday with a rendition of “Happy Birthday” and a signed card. So swept up in this activity during lunch (it was raining outside), one of the boys made a birthday card for his mom and got the whole class to sign it! Some of the girls in the class decided it wouldn’t be fair for me not to get a card and set about getting everyone to sign various versions for me. In the end I received 5 different birthday cards, none with the full class on them but a wonderful sentiment all the same.

Three of the birthday cards I received.

When you’re an 8 year old girl, getting invited to a birthday party is a big deal. Or at least, this is what I can surmise from the number of girls who have come crying to me because they weren’t invited to someone’s birthday party. I don’t really remember this particular childhood experience which I am hoping is indicative that it’s not as traumatic an  experience as it feels when you’re 8.

Another concept which escapes your mind at that age is the concept of age. And when it’s appropriate to ask it. When asked how old I turned by several of the class, I took some time to try and explain why it’s not really polite to ask an adult their age. If I’m honest, this lesson came more from the social convention I was taught at that age then because I believe it still to be true. But still, in a school which doesn’t allow any of the children to learn the teachers’ first names, I didn’t think it would be appropriate. The natural progression from this conversation was to start a guessing game – the first guess was 30. I don’t think I look 30 – I still get asked for ID when I buy wine from Tesco’s. But then again, maybe I am just guilty of the same prejudice as my class – if you’re older than me, you’re old.

All-in-all I had a wonderful first birthday in London – I was pampered and spoilt and showered with love from the wonderful man in my life and all the people who took a moment to say (or text or type) “happy birthday”.


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