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It’s Number 7’s ninth birthday today.
Since she’s being homeschooled right now, one of her gifts was to not have any school today and have fun with Number 6 (who is also being homeschooled).
For one of her birthday presents, Number 7 wanted me to take her to Walmart and pick out a present for herself.
This is not my idea of a fun birthday, but it’s what Number 7 wanted.
We went to Walmart.
I gave her a budget of $40.
Number 7 isn’t your typical 9-year-old kid.
She’s not really into stuff all that much, although her biggest request was to go to Walmart to get… stuff.
A toy. Something. Anything.
But she only wanted to pick out one thing because she still wanted to get actual presents to open on her birthday.
I get it. She’s nine. Kids like to open presents.
We went straight to the toy section.
We walked up and down the aisles.
And up and down the aisles.
And up and down the aisles.
There was nothing there that really appealed to her.
She kept picking stuff up almost just for the sake of picking stuff up.
She wanted to find something she loved so badly.
But there just wasn’t anything there.
She does love stuffed animals, and she finally picked a small blue dog.
It cost less than $10.
She had only spent a quarter of her budget.
And that was all she spent.
I felt bad.
We had this whole day available to us. The weather was gorgeous in CT today.
We could have done something.
We could have gone somewhere.
Even with social distancing and mask wearing, we could have done something really awesome and memorable.
I blew it.
I thought about this as I drove home from our anticlimactic trip to Walmart.
I had thought about suggesting a birthday experience to Number 7.
But in her little 8-turning-9-year-old brain, you get stuff on your birthday.
Birthdays are all about the presents.
This hasn’t been the case with Number 4.
We’ve been doing a birthday experience for seven years.
When she turned 7 I started busting her out of school (her birthday is in the middle of September) and we went to get her first manicure.
When she turned 8 she asked to spend the day in the town next door, so we did that.
On her ninth birthday we went out to lunch.
On her tenth birthday, since it was double digits, she asked for a party. I took her and her friends to the movies.
On her eleventh birthday, we skipped the whole day of school and went to the beach for the day. That was a really fun one.
On her twelfth birthday we went to an Ed Sheeran concert. That was awesome.
On her thirteenth birthday, she asked to go to New York City (we live about an hour away). That was really fun, too.
I thought about all these birthday experiences.
I remember every single one of them, and I know Number 4 does, too.
I explained this to Number 6 and Number 7 when we pulled into the driveway.
I summarized each birthday experience I had with Number 4 and how much fun we had and how nice it was to have that special one-on-one time with her.
Then I asked Number 7 a question.
What did you get for your seventh birthday?
She had no idea. Couldn’t recall a thing.
She couldn’t really remember what stuff she had gotten for any of her birthdays.
And so I told the two of them, that the days of the birthday presents are over.
From now on I’m giving them the gift of my time and my attention and an experience that none of us will ever forget.
Number 7 got it.
“Mommy, that sounds really fun,” she said. “We should have done that this year.”
Yes. We totally should have.
Maybe we still will.
I did get her a couple presents to open tonight. So she’ll still have those.
But the biggest gift I gave her this year is the conversation we had in the car today.
Because Number 4 has seven years of really awesome memories with me to look back on.
And the rest of the kids and I have some serious catching up to do.