The end of May to mid-July were bitter times for me growing up. All three of my siblings celebrated their birthdays during that time and I had to wait until October. They all got presents and all I got was an extra-large piece of cake, big enough so that I wouldn’t whine.
Jean’s and Jeff’s birthdays were usually bearable, filled with lame presents I didn’t really want like Cabbage Patch Dolls and Iron Maiden albums. Jacob’s birthday, however, tormented me every year. He made sure to ask for whatever I wanted most: He-man figures, baseball cards, and Legos.
June of ’83 rolled around. I had finished 2nd grade with respectable Es for excellence in Citizenship and Physical Education; a U for Unsatisfactory in work habits; and a S for Satisfactory in everything else. I turned my attention to my baseball career. All I wanted in life were new batting gloves. And to be a superhero.
For his birthday that year, Jake asked for a new pair of batting gloves and Superman Underoos.
“Mom, this year, Jake really wants a Cabbage Patch Doll and some Care Bear figures,” I told her.
“Really?” she said, “Then he’s going to love what he’s going to get!”
I smiled to myself.
Jake put on his baseball uniform to open his presents, sure he was going to get batting gloves. I laughed on the inside, knowing that he was going to get a Cabbage Patch Doll.
Mom placed a box in front of him, he tore the wrapping paper off and tore the box open. I was giddy.
Mom smiled at me. Jake put on a batting glove and blew out his candles.
I took an extra-large piece of cake. And pouted.
This week, we loaded up the truck again and took off for the north. I thought about how far off my birthday was and how Jake would probably be asking for a daughter for this birthday.
And then it struck me. I instituted half-birthday celebrations in our family for all fathers. I wrote to the family we would be staying with, who I had only briefly met once, and made it seem like it was a long-standing tradition. I was subtle:
“Hi Kerry! Kris mentioned that you’ll let us stay with you. Thank you! Not sure if she mentioned it, but April 12th is my half birthday (the big 36.5). Could you please let her know if you have an angel food cake pan, or if we should bring ours? Thanks again!”
And they went all out! I got two cakes, a sign, and a slammin’ dinner.
I can’t wait until July 12th… 36.75, here I come!