Keeping Secrets

Photo by Muffet (liz west) on Flickr

This past Saturday was my husband’s birthday. He turned the big 3-5, which felt momentous to us for some reason. Maybe because those 0 and 5 ages always feel that way.

Anyhow, it struck me this weekend that birthdays aren’t what they used to be for my husband and me. They used to mean a whole day of gloating about it being my birthday. Now…well…actually I still do that. But no one has ever accused me of being super mature. But I remember we used to celebrate with fancy dinner, then drinks at a bar with live music. Now? Birthdays mean I get to sleep in and don’t have to change diapers (provided my birthday falls on a weekend). They mean ordering in and having a bottle of wine at home. In my pajamas. And if I’m lucky, I’ll stay awake long enough to watch a movie. This is also true for my husband.

Of course, the trade-off is our kids get so darn excited about the prospect of birthdays. They love them. In fact, they like to randomly shout, “Happy Birthday, Mommy!” on days which are not my birthday. I suspect it’s because they hope I’ll forgot it’s not really my birthday and I’ll rush to serve everyone cake. Which isn’t a bad idea, to be honest.

But their excitement can backfire when it comes to things that are supposed to remain secret. Like presents. Now that my son comprehends things like giving gifts, I let him pick the presents he wants to give my husband. Some of my friends like to guide their children’s choices so Daddy doesn’t end up with the latest Transformers action figure and gets something more practical instead. Like a coffee mug. I don’t like to do that though. I figure if I didn’t want my son’s opinion, I shouldn’t have asked him for it (even if he is only 4).  I find my son really does pick things he thinks his dad will like. Usually these are remote control helicopters or airplanes. My husband loves them. So does my son. It’s something they do together.

I’ve had to be careful of when I buy these gifts so my son doesn’t have to keep a secret too long. We’ve got about a 24-hour limit, I’ve noticed. After that, it’ll all spew out. Of course, my husband can probably guess what my son will give him. But still. One of these days I will get my son to stay silent long enough to have at least one present be a surprise. As it stands, my husband’s birthday morning went like this.

Daddy plods down the stairs after having a healthy birthday sleep-in. He says, “Good morning, everyone!”

I say, “Good morning. Hey, guys. Today is Daddy’s birthday. Did you remember?”

The two-year-old twins chime in with some version of, “Happy Birthday, Daddy!”

My four-year-old shouts, “We got you a toy helicopter. It’s really cool!”

Oh well. We can try again for Father’s Day.

9 thoughts on “Keeping Secrets

  1. Too awesome. Been there before. Actually my daughter is really good at keeping secrets. I made up a little secret just between her and me and two years later she still hadn’t said a word though she teases her brothers relentlessly about it.

  2. I hear you about the birthdays not being the same. By the way, I wish my children could keep a secret for 24 hours. The shelf time for a secret with them is more like 24 minutes.

    • Ha! I think if my husband was home during the day when we buy these things, it might not last as long. I think he forgets between morning run to the store and evening when Daddy gets home :).

      On the flip side, he did it to me too :). My husband took him to a pottery painting place and they made a mug for me. I woke up the morning of my birthday and my son says, “Mommy. We got you a coffee mug.” LOL! The painted part was still a surprise though.

  3. True, birthdays are so different when we’re older and have kids…I am that immature one who tried to get the 5-yr old to spill the beans about what Daddy was getting for Mommy once. My clever husband was one step ahead of me, and had told my daughter a made up gift. You should have seen her giddy excitement as she told me that I’m getting an ant farm for my big day!

  4. Good luck with future birthdays! 🙂 Our boys are nine, and, while they don’t actually spill the beans, they give enough clues (true or otherwise) that I’m a nervous wreck by the time we give Scott his presents. That, and all of the disclaimers I give (“this may be too small..the wrong color…) make the gifts a bit anticlimactic for him, I think!

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