A couple of months ago, my daughter Maren turned nine. We were going to be on a family vacation for the big day, so I threw her a birthday party that wrapped up with minutes to spare before we headed for the airport. On her birthday, she ate breakfast at a fancy restaurant where all of the waitstaff sang to her. She opened presents, including most of what she asked for and even a few things she didn’t know she wanted. Then she spent the day bodysurfing, paddleboarding, snorkeling, and building sandcastles with her brothers and sisters. She even rode a water slide. But when it got dark that evening, she clutched my hand as we walked along the beach path and sobbed. “We didn’t get to do everything I wanted,” she said through her tears. “We didn’t have shave ice. I miss my friends.”
My first reaction might be similar to what you’re thinking right now. “What a brat,” I thought. “I can’t believe she’s throwing a fit after she had this perfect day.”
We walked in silence for a while, and eventually the lightbulb went off in my brain. “You don’t want this day to end, do you?” She nodded and cried some more. “I don’t want to wait another whole year for my birthday.” I hugged her and we walked back to the hotel room, past the shuttered shave ice stand, and her tears subsided.
I get it. When I was a kid, my favorite day of the year was January 20th. I had to share Christmas with everyone I knew, but I got to be the center of attention on my birthday. My mom always went all out— homemade cake, treats for my class, beautifully wrapped presents and super creative parties. I never wanted my birthday to end.