The alarm went off at 5am, and Steve and I crept downstairs and into the garage in order to blow up balloons. Sixteen of them. Our son turns fifteen today, and we wanted him to wake up to balloons filling his room – his age plus one to grow on. Might sound silly, but it’s a tradition we started when they were small, and we’ve just kept at it, even when it means the number of balloons starts to resemble a Party City checkout counter. Over the years, we’ve discovered that
- Cats are fascinated with balloons, especially the string attached to them
- The helium doesn’t last as long as you’d like, and sometimes they’ll wake up with a room full of balloons on the floor (thus the 5am start time today)
- Putting balloons in unexpected places, like in the shower, is fun, especially with sleepy teenagers
- Dogs don’t really like balloons
Because the dog sleeps in our son’s room, we had to carefully avoid not only the creaky spots in the stairwell, but his whole room altogether, so this year’s balloons were mostly along the path from his room to the bathroom, in the bathroom (yes, including in the shower), and upstairs at the breakfast table. While at this age, waking up to balloons might outwardly gather only an eye roll, I think deep inside, the kids still like it…it’s a reminder that they’re special, and that while their parents might seem silly at times, they do these things with love in their hearts.
We traditionally allow our kids to select their birthday dinner, which can range from apple slices and mac n cheese, to Dino-bites, to (more recently) going out to a nice restaurant. Wherever we are, they are automatically special plate kid for that evening. We take time to remember when they were born (adding more embarrassing or funny details as they get older), celebrate with a few presents, and in general try to make their day special. Younger kids would take a treat in to their classroom and would have a party, though nothing really elaborate. We have had our fair share of Chuck E Cheese parties, trampoline parties, and movies with friends.
We’ve found it’s important to have the siblings give each other gifts as well, so they go through the process of thinking about what the birthday kid would like, what they can afford, and purchasing, wrapping, and giving the gift away. That might sound simple, but it’s a good thing to do. Obviously, this evolves as the kids mature…I wouldn’t expect a 2 year old to understand what they can afford, but a teenager? – Absolutely!
Everyone has a different concept of aging, and thus birthday celebrations, but we like to acknowledge the age, whether it’s a milestone birthday or not, and make that person feel special in some way. We are glad we’ve all been born – time to celebrate!!