Family Life

Birthday Power

Anyone who created the cliche, “age is just a number,” never had the variety of differences toward birthdays that our family has.

Amelia loves every minute of every birthday. This September she will officially become a teenager, so I’m pretty sure she started planning her party months ago. She has always taken birthdays and parties seriously. No doubt she’s a New Orleans girl.

For the first six birthdays of her life, she wanted only a swimming party in our backyard. She’d plan a theme (unicorns one year; Barbie, another). We’d decorate accordingly, order a gooey theme-related cake, and let the kids swim all afternoon. Amelia made a list of possible gifts her parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles could give her, and we’d all do as we were told.

Now that she is older, Amelia gravitates toward sleepovers, where the entertainment revolves around make-up, Theo’s pizza, and manis/pedis.

Rylan, like all the males in our family, couldn’t care less about celebrating a birthday. To the guys, it’s, “Birthday? Whose birthday? Did you say my birthday?” He probably gets this attitude from his grandfather, Papa.

Family lore tells that Papa never liked being the center of attention on his birthday. He was an only child who got plenty of attention from his two doting parents and a whole raft of relatives. To him, birthdays were a nuisance. The year he turned five, he opened a present and sighed, “Oh, just what I didn’t want. A book.” Today his favorite present to receive is a gift certificate to the Garden District Book Store.

This year, Rylan will turn 16 and he’ll get his driver’s license. Yes, he passed Driver’s Ed with flying colors, so there are no excuses. He’ll be hitting the road ASAP. It will be that great, long-awaited taste of freedom for him. He’ll probably celebrate with his buddies by borrowing his mom’s big white SUV and driving straight to Felipe’s Restaurant for five carnitas tacos. What more could a guy want?

One of my many failings as a mother, grandmother, and friend is that I don’t remember birthdays and constantly mess up. A simple calendar works for most sane individuals, but not for me. I need a written calendar and a computer reminder and maybe even a large sledge hammer to knock over my head a day or so before someone’s birthday. And then I’d still screw it up.

So for now, I’ll hire Amelia to remind me of whose birthday is when and how he or she would like to celebrate. I’ll even ask her to psyche out some cool gifts for the birthday boy or girl. Heck, I may even hire her to decorate and send out invitations. Yes, that would solve a lot of problems for this family.

She will just have to make sure Papa gets a really good book.

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