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Monday, May 18, 2009

Celebration of Life

“Good morning sweetie,” I said. “Time to get up, today is your celebration of life birthday party at school.” I tickled his toes and asked, “Did you grow overnight?” I think he did.

The Celebration of Life ceremony is a Montessori school tradition to honor a child’s birthday and mark the passage of time.

Yesterday we made a poster with pictures from each year of his life. We picked a sweet one from the day he was born and underneath we wrote his birthday: May 24, 2005. We had fun looking through our favorite pictures and chose a few for each year: his first haircut, riding the Thomas train we rented for his 2nd birthday and a collage of all the sports he learned at three … soccer, swimming, skating and riding his bike.

We brought the poster and some snacks with him to school. The teacher asked all the children to sit in a circle and the celebration began. She lit a candle and placed it in the middle of the circle. Matthew sat beside her on a mat. In front of them were four additional candles, one for each year of his life. She handed him a globe and asked him to walk to the centre of the circle; this represents the passage of time as the earth revolves around the sun.

As he walked around the candle, the children sang a celebration song to the tune of “Here we go round the mulberry bush" …

“Here we go around the sun, around the sun, around the sun. Here we go around the sun until the year is done.”

During the ceremony the teacher asked me how big he was and how much he weighed when he was born. We talked about what he was like when he was a baby. Then he walked around the circle with his poster showing each of his friends his baby picture. He sat back down by his teacher and they looked at the pictures from when he was one. Everyone liked the picture of him getting his first haircut. They repeated the birthday walk around the candle for each year of his life. When he finished his four year walk they sang happy birthday and he blew out the candles. All of his friends gave him a hug as he walked around the circle one last time.

Then they all enjoyed the snack we prepared. Matthew wanted me to sit beside him, a place of honor I knew I wouldn’t always have when he grows older. Tomorrow morning, I’ll walk in his room and say, “Good morning sweetie, time to get up.” I’ll tickle his toes and ask, “Did you grow again?” I already know the answer; it’s the same answer I’ll get every morning as I watch my baby grow into a boy overnight.

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