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The Worst Birthday Party, or When to Ask for Help

We emphasize independence around our house, with kids doing chores and serving themselves food as young as possible. So this is the cautionary tale I tell my girls about being too independent, and not seeing the limits of your own thinking:

My homeroom teacher, Miss Z, was fun, kind and patient with my awkward 9-to-10-years-old school year. I think her birthday was in the spring. Another student and I decided to throw her a surprise birthday party, since we liked her and I love planning surprises.

We thought we would decorate during lunch to surprise her when she came in for the afternoon. But only kids who misbehaved had to stay in during lunch. Miss Z had a tally mark system and a certain number of infractions got you stuck inside. So my friend and I decided to misbehave.

Normally we were model students, and my most vivid memory of the day is an exasperated teacher walking over to put yet another tally mark next to my name. I think she even said "What's gotten into you two today?" But we persevered with whatever obnoxious behaviors we'd decided on until we were told we'd be in for lunch.

During lunch, when the homeroom teacher for the next classroom over was supervising us, and we explained our plan for decorating the room and surprising our teacher. She was probably horrified at our lack of emotional IQ, and said "Why didn't you just tell me what you wanted to do? I would have found another way to keep you in during lunch."

I doubt our afternoon surprise made up for the morning hassle we'd caused, but Miss Z was a good sport about whatever festivities we'd arranged. If you're reading this, Miss Z, I'm sorry! The story has become part of the family lore about short-sighted decisions and poor planning, so at least my kids can learn!

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