Happy Birthday to You! Cha-Cha-Cha!

     Happy Birthday to You! Cha-Cha-Cha!

     Happy Birthday, dear ______________, 

     Happy Birthday to You! CHA-CHA-CHA!

This song makes me cringe. Don’t get me wrong–it’s not that I don’t find an occasional cha-cha-cha amusing, especially when sung by six-year-olds. They’re very cute: the birthday child stands midst singing friends, who enthusiastically pump the air with every cha.

But the song itself signals the earthquake I’ve come to expect teaching first grade. No doubt, every parent or elementary teacher can anticipate the inevitable after-shocks associated with children’s birthday treats. In the event that you have neither taught school nor parented young children, let me explain what happens:

1. general anticipation and elation over cake, gifts, and being near the center of attention (i.e. the birthday child) for day leading up to, but especially prior to the birthday celebration

2. disappointment over the flavor of the cake, the rules about playing with new gifts, and/or not being near the center of attention (i.e. the birthday child)

3. frosting on hands, face, napkins, and table

4. cake crumbs on hands, face, napkins, table, floor, and furniture, even in rooms unrelated to the birthday festivities

5. sugar rush: (n.) specifically, a heightened sense of silliness, energy, high-pitched talking, impulsivity, and aggressive physical activity; occurs within minutes of eating cake

6. sugar crash: (n.) the reversal of a sugar rush, identified by fatigue, distractibility, whining, tattling, irritability, and meanness; begins occurring within the hour, but may last until bedtime

7. tears, for any reason, but particularly for no sensible reason

8. injury (see all of the above)

I think the “Happy Birthday” version I grew up on is more applicable.

     Happy Birthday to you, 

     You live in a zoo.

     You look like a monkey,

     And you act like one, too.


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