…which are things children think are fun but I do not.
Yes, I did have fun at my own birthday party last fall, and there is mucho embarrassing photographic evidence out there to prove it. But for the most part, I’ve hit that stage of life where celebrating my imminent death is not something I really enjoy. And those around me seem to enjoy it a little too much, if you ask me.
“Happy Birthday! Soon the world will be free of you,” the message seems to be. And when I grouse about it, some Pollyanna-type invariably says “Well, it beats the alternative.”
Presumably, the Pollyanna means having no birthday to celebrate due to the lack of a pulse. And I have no argument for that, though I doubt being dead would keep my loved ones from enjoying a chocolate-cherry cake in honor of my day.
“Well, it beats the alternative. But even if it didn’t, we’re making a cake.”
My oldest turned 14 yesterday. I’m currently holed-up in my bedroom writing this, hiding from 6 screaming teenaged girls and a filthy kitchen. Now, I’ve always told my kids they get one giant, invite-your-friends birthday party whilst on my watch. They can pick the year, but they only get one. Annual intimate family party? Of course. I’m not the devil. But I can’t be thinking about clowns and inflatable jumping devices and gift bags and whatnot every few months, every damn year, people.
But my daughter kind of stealthily slipped this one past security by informing me a few days ago that she’d invited a group of gals over to hang for the day, go swimming and cook burgers and watch a movie and stuff, oh, and since it just happened to be her birthday they might be bringing a few gifts or whatever but it wasn’t a party per se.
It certainly sounds like a party. A pretty good one, actually. The truth is I don’t care, they are old enough to basically entertain and clean up after themselves, so no skin off my nose.
I only had one “friend” party myself as a kid, and I thought it was weird. I’ve written before about how we didn’t get presents, but we were fussed over and treated like royalty by the family all day, so it was all good. Better than good, it was great. For some reason, though, when I was in third grade, I asked my mom if I could have an actual, send-out-invitations-type party and she agreed.
I invited over the eight girls in my class, and we ate lasagna and played “clothespins in a bottle” and they all gave me presents, and the whole time, all I could think was how much I wanted them to leave so I could hang out with my family. They were all nice girls, they were my friends, for Pete’s sake. It was just such a strange shift from the norm, it made me really uncomfortable. And I remember after it was finally over, I was left staring at my pile of presents and feeling bad that I got presents on my birthday but none of my siblings did. Especially my sister, whose birthday is the day after mine. It was an empty victory. Maybe that’s why my mom let me do it; maybe she wanted me to learn to not ask for extra things when what I had was enough. Maybe that’s a little too profound and I just had such runaway OCD that any deviation from my routine sent me into a funk.
OCD, you ask? I dunno, let’s see…I had to swish exactly nine times every time I brushed my teeth, I had to put my hands on the exact middle of what looked like a tombstone in the neighbor’s yard on the way to school every day and I had to chant my own version of the Glory Be six times before bed every night, you tell me.
It seems to be quieting down down there. Happy Birthday, sweetie.