what happens when a kid’s birthday doesn’t live up to his expectations?

Tomorrow is my middle child’s seventh birthday, and Seamus has been humming to himself all week. This morning at breakfast, he informed me that he was “6 and 364/365ths,” and I only wish I was half so sanguine about my own upcoming birthday, hurtling toward me on its tracks of doomed mortality.

Back to Seamus, who is literally quivering with anticipation. This has me more than a little stressed, because as you can see in the photo, once the actual birthday arrives, it can be a bit of a letdown. Last year, his birthday included a magic show, a trip to the candy store, and going out to dinner; he termed that “the high kind of medium.”  Going off that reaction, I fear that we could Troop the Colour tomorrow and it still might not live up to his yet-optimistic and extremely elevated expectations. 

I always freak out the day before my kids’ birthdays that I don’t have enough presents for them. There are some mothers who have the presents thought out, wrapped, and hidden about the garden two days ahead of time. That is not me. I tend to hit Amazon three days ahead of time, searching for …I’m not sure what, after I suddenly realize my God, I have nothing. Then I open the linen closet and find three presents I bought a month ago jammed behind the winter blankets. In this case, I have a collection of random things I have amassed for his birthday (a book, a Nerf football) and one BIG present, an enormous box that has been torturing him all week. It’s a ping-pong table. I think Seamus likes ping-pong. I mean, he did last time I checked. 

I have particular stress about Seamus’s birthday because summer birthdays suck, and I speak from experience. Why bother with a birthday party? Your school friends aren’t around, your summer friends are all taking turns not being around, and it’s harder to feel like your birthday is a big deal. I remember the summer I turned six- my family was on vacation in the Poconos. We were staying in some sort of cabin situation, and we had a “party” for my birthday which involved other random vacationers stopping by to say hi before dinner. However I also remember being really and truly psyched when a nice man with a beard gave me a dollar bill. So maybe summer birthdays aren’t all bad.

I had just managed to tell myself to stop overthinking when my (out of town) husband called this morning. “I don’t know,” he said. “Do you think we’re set for tomorrow?”

Yes. Totally. Definitely. As long as Seamus still likes ping-pong.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Courtney July 27, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Oh my gosh, summer birthdays are the best! My two brothers and I all have summer birthdays, and we grew up having the BEST parties! We had pool parties, camping parties, waterpark parties. I think my daughter has it way worse – her birthday is December 30th when it is -20 outside, you can’t go outside, you’ve just seen everyone for Christmas so no one wants to get together AGAIN the night/day before New Year’s Eve or the weekend after, and when she does go to school she will never be in school for her birthday.


Anonymous July 28, 2011 at 6:34 pm

no you’re right Courtney, Christmas birthdays are *the* worst. By comparison, summer birthdays are only medium worst, as Seamus himself would say.


Jessica July 27, 2011 at 10:17 pm

Uh-oh. Both my kids have summer birthdays. They’re too young now to care (2 years and 1 month), but I suppose this could become an issue. At least they both have the same issue, so it’s fair!


Christa July 28, 2011 at 5:45 pm

I just found your blog and love it! Too bad about the summer b-day! I’m sure it will still be great…”as long as Seamus still likes ping pong”! Love it!


Anonymous July 28, 2011 at 6:33 pm

Thanks Christa!


Missy @ Wonder, Friend July 29, 2011 at 3:09 pm

I am so thrilled I’m not the only mother taking advantage of her Amazon Prime membership to get birthday presents delivered in time… only to discover she already has gifts stashed in the top of the armoire. Apparently, I’m a terrible gift planner/buyer. So far, they’re little and I can get away with it, but I worry about birthdays to come.

Happy Birthday to Seamus! May it be at *least* a low kind of awesome.


April July 29, 2011 at 5:09 pm

All three of my kids have a summer birthday and I love it.  All the ice cream and punch is spilled outside, not inside my house.  And, this is the part I love best, we can invite whomever we want.  Because school is out, we don’t have that uncomfortable obligation to invite everyone in their class to the party.  The only people who know about it are the people who received an invitation!


Guest August 1, 2011 at 10:26 pm

“When you coming home, dad?” “I don’t know when,
But we’ll get together then.
You know we’ll have a good time then.”


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