Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Your Special Day, Wurbo

Happy birthday Ryan! The big 15 is finally here. It’s kind of hard to fathom that it was a little under 8 years ago that I was the same age. It’s also a little hard to imagine that even though I am 8 years older, Ryan still manages to outsize me. I guess I need to work on bulking up. Weight room here I come! Err…wait, we don’t have a weight room. In that case, limited amount of weights that I have sitting down in our basement around the bench here I come!

I’m trying to think back to my fifteenth birthday when I was in 9th grade, but I have a hard time recalling anything about it. I’m pretty sure I didn’t do anything for my birthday and I was probably just trying to be ignored like usual. 9th grade was right in the middle of my social pariah stage. I never wanted to be noticed because then the pricks of my class would notice me and once they noticed you for doing anything, your day would be hellish. A birthday would be just what they needed to notice you so I’m guessing I simply tried to lay low.

I do remember birthdays from before my 15th, some even quite fondly. There were always the wonderful bowling birthday parties when I was in elementary school. It was somewhat traditional in the little town of Hayfield to have bowling parties since the only thing to do in our town WAS bowling. We didn’t have a movie theater or a skating rink or a Chucky Cheese or anything else that kids did or went to. We only had a bowling alley.

Imagine five or six little 5th graders running around a bowling alley having the times of their lives. We’d compete to see who could *gasp* break 100. A score that big would be quite an accomplishment for us little guys. Heck, we’d be happy when we hit down more than one or two pins. After a few games of exhilarating bowling, it would be time to rip into a couple of bowling alley prepared pizzas. They weren’t the best in the world, but after a hard fought game of bowling, they were perfect.

Lastly would come the presents. It was odd, but when I was little I exchanged presents with my friends for birthdays. It seems a little rarer nowadays that kids exchange gifts, but anyhow, I digress. We’d usually get each other a cool new action figure or a small set of legoes or something else neat. It was always so hard to not tell your friends what you had gotten them. You just knew they were going to like it and you wanted to gush out to them what you had wrapped at home with their name on it, but then that would ruin the surprise. Keeping the secret of what you got someone must have been one of the hardest things for a kid to do.

When the night was finally over, I’d be the happiest kid ever. I got to spend time with my friends bowling. I got to be with my family. I got presents. It was all perfect. It’s memories like this that make me want to have tons of kids so that I can experience moments like this as a parent because I’ll already know how much they love it and it can only feel infinitesimally better to know you’re the cause of that feeling in your child.

But then there are birthdays in middle school and high school. The days might not be happy anymore. You’ll especially be able to relate to your child’s anguish, but you won’t be able to do anything because you yourself know that your children don’t believe you understand. It’s better to let them believe that instead of acknowledging their inadequacies in the social circles of school. By ignoring their hurt, kids continue to think that their parents only see the good side. I know that my parents always saw the good side. I never wanted to be anything less than perfect for them sometimes more than for myself. Seeing my child living through the agony of high school is something I am not looking forward too, especially since I know what the front lines of the popularity war are like. I don’t want a child to go through that because I know I would never want to do it again myself.

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