My, how summer birthdays have evolved.
I can remember feeling sorry for the kids with summer birthdays when I was growing up. They missed out getting a class party. Sure, they might have a celebration at their house for the kids who were around and received their postal invites, but they seemed pissed about not getting the whole two-fold school/home/double cupcake birthday experience.
Now? Not so much. What I’ve learned from having a child with a July birthday is that the Generation of Overcompensation is alive and well.
When my daughter woke up this morning to celebrate her seventh birthday, I got the distinct feeling we’d already been celebrating for almost a month. Let’s see. First, there was the class party four weeks ago so that the teacher could squeeze in all of the summer birthdays before school ended. Then, there was the little party with friends, which also had to happen before summer vacation. I know this because, in my rookie state of throwing my daughter’s first “friends” party when she turned four, I found out the hard way that nobody is around and you can expect an attendance rate in July of about .000000774%. So now we do it a few weeks early, which makes me a part of the much-dreaded year-end crush of summer birthday parties that sends moms to the brink of hysteria buying five or six gifts at a time in the Target toy aisle while also trying to get the teacher gifts squared away. Sorry.
And yet today, somehow, my wide-eyed girl sprung out of bed and still had actual, legitimate excitement over her big day, dramatically declaring that she couldn’t believe it was finally here. Fiiiiiiiiinally. After about eight months of anticipation, discussion and planning on her part.
She gets this from me — the extension of all things birthday-related. I never did well studying DNA in Biology class, but this concrete example speaks to me.
This was a great year for my daughter, with just the right amount of change. She started elementary school, and navigated this new land with so much enthusiasm. She held onto her love of purple, pink and magenta (because they are different, you know) and her affection for wearing dresses and being ready for a party at a moment’s notice. She grew more confident in her abilities as she stuck with ballet and softball and Girl Scouts. She is still obsessed with baking and food prep. Her love of all things Disney and princesses has faded a bit — not entirely, but the days seem to be gone when we’d see her spontaneously change princess gowns a few times each day (which stings a little, I have to say). She’s singing along to pop music on the radio now, correcting us when the lyrics are wrong. And she still firmly believes that she is the second mother to both of her brothers.
Her preferred pace is full-speed and always moving (except to watch Chopped Junior). I often describe her presence as living with a cruise director (children of the 80s — remember Julie McCoy?). Crafts on the Lido Deck, followed by square dancing in the garden. The child never met an agenda or schedule she didn’t love. She will try anything, do anything, if the alternative is being still.
She has to-do lists and plans. Short and long term. Which Beanie Boos to bring to camp on which days. What to wear for the first day of school in September (an actual discussion she started with me this week). What to bake on the next rainy day. Where to work when she’s a teenager.
And so, as part of her extensive birthday planning, she had some items to review with me this week as the big day fiiiiiiiinally approached.
“I can see on my camp schedule that the theme on my birthday is Western Day. Do you think we can get a pink cowgirl hat for me to wear?”
“I also see on the schedule that we will be doing cooking at camp on my birthday, and also bungee trampolining and swim. It’s perfect. And lunch is pizza.”
“SO, when I get out of camp, can we go swimming? Especially if I get the new mermaid fin for my birthday?”
“But if it’s raining, which it might because Alexa said there’s a 26% chance, can we go see The Secret Life of Pets instead? It opens on my birthday so you probably have to buy tickets in advance.”
“And I would really love to go out to dinner. Can we do that, since we don’t have a kitchen right now anyway? We could go to that place that we both really like where you get the big white wine glass and I get the pasta.”
“And I know you can’t bake me a cake because of the kitchen. So can we get an ice cream cake?”
“And if we can’t fit it all in one night, can we just spread it out to Saturday and Sunday? You know, like a birthday weekend?”
Me: <blinking audibly and admiring how this is both absurd and well-thought-out>
This is what happens when the cruise director has a birthday. That, and the coordinated eye roll of her two brothers.
Oh, my only daughter. She really is something. She is kind and sweet and endlessly curious. She wants to know everything and be everywhere. I know she’ll want to grow up fast. And I will try my very hardest not to let that happen before she’s ready, without getting too much in her way. I have no idea how I will walk this line. I have no clue how I’ll handle her tween and teen and college years, because I can tell you right now that she will give me a run for my money. Her wings are so bright and my biggest challenge will be giving them the space and air they need at the right pace.
But we have time for all of that. First, we have to figure out if we’re going to the pool or to the movies tonight.
Happy birthday to my sweet, sweet girl.