The Boy has figured out that there’s a catch to this birthday thing. For three years he went along and every year at the same time he would have a birthday. It was pretty cool because there was new stuff and it made his parents happy. The first time it was like some big stinking deal where, like, everyone he knew came around and we all ate at a restaurant. The second and third were fine, too. Lots of people came around and generally poked into everything, and there was cake. Who doesn’t want chocolate frosting, right? No big deal, though.
Last year, though. Last year was different. First he had a birthday when we had cake and there were presents. Who doesn’t like presents? And, you know, chocolate frosting. Plus, he turned four. Every time someone says he can’t do something his sister can do, they say he’s too little, so getting older must be a good thing. His sister is older and she gets to do all kinds of things he’s not allowed to do. When did he turn four? On his birfday. Bring on the birfday, man.
Then, only a few days later, his friends from school came over for his birthday party. More presents and more cake. Yay! This is awesome! Everyone knows what birthdays mean, too: On each birthday you get one year older. He had a birthday last week, when he turned four. This week he’s turning five. When did he turn five? On his birfday. At this rate he’ll catch up to his sister. Score!
Then, about two weeks later, his grandparents showed up and put a playset complete with swings and slide in the back yard. What did they say? Happy birthday. Awesome again! Now he’s six! When did he turn six, you ask? On his birfday. His parents don’t seem to get it, but it’s not the first time he’s noticed that they’re not the brightest crayons.
For two months he was the same age as his sister. Then she had a birthday and turned seven, but still, he was closing the gap.
A year later, he had another one of these great cake/frosting/presents events. It was so awesome that he decided to humor all the people who seem to have missed his last two birthdays and think he’s now turned five. They can’t help it.
Within a couple of months, though, he realized something. The service around these parts was starting to suck. He kept hearing that he was five years old, so he was big enough to brush his own teeth, buckle his own seatbelt, wipe his own butt, put on his own clothes, or get himself a drink. Nobody told him that accepting birthdays obligated him to take care of himself. What are parents and teachers for if he’s brushing, buckling, wiping, dressing, and drinking all by himself? This situation can’t be allowed to stand. It’s just wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.
After some clever thinking, he found a solution. He’s sending some of these birthdays back. He’s going back to being four. He’ll just declare that he’s no longer five. He’s four. Now every time someone tells him to be a big boy he says, “I’m too little. I’m four.” When did he turn four? On his birfday, of course. This is a great system. And four is apparently the perfect age.