3 of our 4 children have birthdays that fall within a 5 week period that straddles summer and autumn. We’re in that period now with Carman & Sudoku’s birthdays days behind us and just Doodle’s left to go.

Both Carman and Sudoku expressed disappointment after their birthdays. The big day just didn’t meet expectations. Not enough gifts, not enough excitement, not enough surprise.

We have some regular birthday traditions: a few gifts, cake and ice cream, candles, birthday spankings, the story of their birth. And each year has had it’s own surprises. Usually family or friends join us to celebrate, but the company varies from year to year. This year was no different, really.

This year, though, didn’t pass muster for either of the older kids. I was honored that they felt like they could be so honest with us, and we decided it was time to bring them down to earth.

When kids are young, everything is new, grand, exciting. It takes so little to impress them. But as they get older, it takes more and more time, money, thought, and energy to get that wow-factor. We can’t keep up. So, we told them that if they want to continue having happy birthdays, they’re going to have to lower their expectations and decide to be happy with less.

Sure, I think we’ll be able to pull a few surprises out of the hat for them every few years or so, but the sooner they can get over that expectation, the happier they’ll be. – milkmaid

cake courtesy of Matt Browne