The painful fact that adults don’t really celebrate birthdays

Birthday cake
Birthday cake
Share this article

There are some things parents really should keep from their children until they can at least legally buy the Old Man a pint.

The fairy stories aside there are certain facts of life best discovered first hand such as the pain of childbirth (so I am told), the trauma of trying to switch an account of any kind via a call centre or waiting for the breakdown man to turn up on time.

Blaise Tapp

Blaise Tapp

As someone who does parenting by the seat of his pants, this means the heir to my collection of Asterix comic books always finds out the hard way. And so it was in the otherwise uneventful run up to my birthday, I made the mistake of telling our wonderfully earnest six-year-old that grown-ups - which I am told is a gross contradiction in terms in our house - don’t care for birthdays as much as children do.

I may as well have told her we were having goldfish soufflé for lunch. While there are some Peter Pans out there who celebrate every birthday like they were 10-years-old, complete with a week-long build up, most of us mortgage payers and professional nose wipers enjoy the day with the family and it is all forgotten about once Newsnight comes on.

But this is a painful fact that no child wants to hear as, after Christmas, birthdays are the highlight of any year. I have never really taken much notice of how old I am until now but seeing the big 4-0 on the horizon is a sobering thought, especially when I recall how ancient I regarded my own parents when they were the same age. If that wasn’t confusing enough I was recently told (by a 68 year-old) that 70 is the new 50 - logic which left me completely flummoxed because, based on that calculation 30 year olds would still be at school.

But even without the Over The Hill mugs and T-shirts which we gleefully gave our folks 30 years ago, 40 is still a big deal as it allows us to reflect on the previous four decades and forces some of us to get a wriggle on and achieve the goals we set our 20-year-old selves.

No man can stop the passage of time but they can learn to celebrate. I’ll try harder next year.