PERSONALLY SPEAKING: These birthdays have got to end

Personally Speaking | Lori Hansen

I recently celebrated a birthday. It wasn’t one of those big ones, you know, one that ends in a “zero.” But that number comes next year, and I have decided I am just going to stop right here and not have birthdays any more.

When you are a kid, birthdays are a really big deal. A child starts talking about his or her birthday celebration months in advance, with a list of who to invite to their party and the presents they would like to receive.

A child looks forward to their birthday, seen by the big announcements of “I’m 6 and a half!” or “I’m almost 9. My birthday is only three months away.”

But once a person hits adulthood, birthdays are not usually anticipated with such eagerness.

An adult often realizes the insignificance of a change in age. You are 35, you go to bed, and you wake up the next morning and you are now 36. You get up and you go to work, which was pretty much the same thing you did the day before, when you were one whole year younger.

The tough issue isn’t so much the number of candles, it’s the reality of getting older.

For me, I’m not focused on the number and seeing it grow bigger. It is not the growing older that bothers me, it is the fact that one of these days, I might have to grow up!

I want to ride a bike with my kids and feel the wind blow against us, and maybe even getting daring and ride with no hands on the handle bars. I want to be able to climb a tree up to my son’s fort, where I can enjoy a stunning view. I want to go to the lake and jump and dive off the diving board with my kids, doing cannonballs and somersaults right along with them. I want to do cartwheels in the front yard, or play badminton, or shoot baskets. I want to join in when my younger daughters have a Gangnam dance party.

I enjoy doing these “kid” things and wonder how much older I can get before it is no longer respectable for me to act like a kid.

There are joys of getting older, like watching as my children get older, get married and have children of their own. I am so proud of the wonderful adults they have become. And I am also thrilled with the wonderful children they have, and that they share them with me.

And now that I have earned the title of “Grandma,” or as my 2-year-old grandson calls me, “Jamma,” I have another generation, another reason, to stay young.

I want to be able to help my grandson and granddaughters run and chase after the kitties. I want to sit on the floor to do puzzles with them and then be able to get back up again. I want to take them to the park and push them on the swings and maybe swing myself.

Teens often dream of the day when they are grown up, the day when they can drive or vote or be out on their own. They can’t wait to grow up.

But now I am a grown-up and quickly reaching the latter part of being middle aged. And I am thinking maybe, just maybe, I’ll borrow the famous jingle from Toys-R-Us, and sing “I Don’t Want To Grow Up …”

And I think I’ll just stop right here, not have any more birthdays. I’ll just call this the peak, and instead of adding more candles to the birthday cake, I’ll start a new tradition next year and take one away.

That way I would get younger and not have to grow up!

Correspondent Lori Hansen is a Greenville-area resident.

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