Paper plane

May 11, 2018

My new school likes to celebrate birthdays. Since starting there, I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve gathered in the staff room to sing happy birthday and eat piles of food generously brought in by colleagues. It’s safe to say that life is good. Who doesn’t love a morning tea?

The food, to date, has been incredible and it seems that this group of people have an endless enthusiasm for baking cakes, slices and even savoury nibbles for these events.

Someone had even made tiny vegetable samosas with a range of three dipping sauces. It’s safe say that the standard was really high. So high, in fact, that I felt inclined to up my game and began baking cupcakes and slices to put forward as an offering.

This was a new me. I barely knew who I was. Perhaps it was the pressure to be seen as a good team player by my new colleagues that had me diving into the kitchen in the late hours of the evening? Maybe I needed to buy an apron? One thing was for sure – I didn’t want to be the first person to bring in something from the supermarket.

I began to think that perhaps there is some safety in having a birthday early in the year, when people are still enthusiastic and on top of things. When you are still sticking to using different highlighter colours in your planner and you don’t wear the same top twice in one week.

Those of us who were born in the dark months of the middle of the year when sometimes turning up at school on time is a real struggle, will just have to see what offerings are made. It can be a miracle in August (my birthday month) if I know what day assembly is happening, so the added dimension of bringing a treat for sharing may well be pushing it by that point of the year.

Then, just last week, it happened. It was the same week that the athletics carnival took place (and half the school got sunburnt), plus our first round of reports were due and people were really struggling with life.

As a staff, we were red and tired. We met on the Friday at recess to celebrate five birthdays that had happened in the past two weeks. The spread on the table was still impressive but purchased items had started to creep into the mix.

A few boxes of BBQ Shapes, some Tim Tams, a noteworthy selection of coffee scrolls from the local bakery and then a solitary packet of rice crackers. With no dip. It’s safe to say standards had dropped.

However, in true teacher style, we pushed through. Those BBQ Shapes were some of the best I’d ever had. A truly inspiring box of flavour. I may have also taken a handful of rice crackers back to my office with me at the end of the celebrations and enjoyed them … even without dip.

Christina Adams is a member of the Australian Education Union (Victoria) and a stand-up comedian