This is my youngest child, Aaron. He celebrated his 13th birthday on July 16. I no longer have babies, toddlers, preschoolers, grade schoolers, or pre-teens. And one of my children is out of the teens and is in his twenties! That's sobering! Brandon is 20, Kelly is 18, Colin is 15, and now Aaron is 13.
Humans celebrate birthdays and have systems in place to record birthdates. Animals don't. Plants don't. Water, earth, and sky don't. Oh, sure, the number of dots on lady bugs' backs reveal how old they are (not!) and the growth rings on a cross-section of a tree trunk (true!) reveal how old they are, but lady bugs and trees don't celebrate birthdays.
As is our family custom, Teresa made Aaron his favorite birthday cake (ice cream cake), we gathered around him, turned out the lights, lit the candles, sang "Happy Birthday", he blew out the candles, we ate cake, and he opened presents. Animals, plants, water, earth, and sky don't do those things. Those things are part of human culture.
People are invited to birthday parties. Because of where we live and because every day at school is a celebration, we are going to invite the animals, and the plants and the water and the earth and the sky to join us each day as we celebrate learning. And we're going to celebrate them, even though we don't know their birthdays.
One of the celebrations I'm looking forward to this year is a once a week school-wide gathering near the flagpole for 5 minutes or so to start off our day. I can't wait to see 6th graders standing alongside kindergarteners. I'm looking forward to pledging allegiance to the flag together, singing together, and maybe even dancing together. Who knows? It will become part of our culture, one of the things differentiates us.
Another celebration we'll have each year is a birthday celebration for our school. This year we will celebrate our first birthday. There is much to celebrate about completing our first year and much to look forward in birthdays to come.
And, yes, the animals, trees, plants, water, earth, and sky are on the invitation list.