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.