Will Half-Birthday Celebrations Spoil My Child?


Long before we had a son, I loved the idea of the half-birthday celebration, held six months after (or before) a child's annual birthday. My parents never threw one for us (and probably never even heard of the concept), but before I was a mom, I'd constantly urge all my parent friends to do it for their children. I doubt anyone ever actually did. I can see why; it's yet another day to get your act together for. 

Making a half cake for a low-key birthday bash is reason enough to do it (I make whole cupcakes out of the extra batter), but I've discovered other reasons it works for A.

His half-birthday is in May, which is perfect for summer presents. Who wants a new bike under the Christmas tree during winter's deep freeze? Or a new basketball hoop and ball for an icy driveway? Slip 'n' Slide and a new bathing suit is no fun in December, but May? Bring it on. We'd end up buying these type of warm-weather presents for him anyway, so it's much more fun to make a party out of it. I also wrap up a few gifts from friends that may have straggled in earlier in the year — such as authentic soccer shirts from a Brit pal and his mum or some board games from my nephews and New York friends. 

Last year, for his first half-birthday, it was just me, my husband, and A. It was particularly special, because for his fifth birthday, his first one with us, he didn't speak English well. He was even a little scared by the cake alit with candles coming at him. (And he didn't really like cake, particularly icing; that lack of sweet tooth was short lived, however). So by May last year, after he had been in America for seven months, he understood the concept of birthdays (cake and gifts!).

This year for his half-birthday, I thought we'd keep it small, but as we headed upstate, A told me he packed a "party shirt" for Saturday. I realized he had bigger expectations than we had planned for, so I invited another neighborhood couple to stop by, and my husband's parents took a short drive for the festivities also. I hurriedly wrapped a few presents and books. A and I baked the confetti cake (he chose it) and together we decorated it with chocolate icing and rainbow sprinkles. After lunch, we sang happy half-birthday, gave him presents and a card cut in half, had whole pieces of cake and ice cream, then played wiffle ball. 

I keep it all pretty low-key, not a major birthday with all his school mates, but when I mention our celebration to some people they say I'm overdoing it or "he's going to get used to all those presents." I hear it as them saying we are spoiling him. But besides the aforementioned perfect time for seasonal presents or clothes he'd get anyway, I explain that A never celebrated his birthday in Ethiopia. It's not a thing. It's infrequent that people know their actual birth date. 

Since he missed celebrating his first four birthdays, I'm happy to make it up to him. And if it's considered spoiling him so be it. He's thrilled by it and we're excited to see his joyful face.

But we won't do it forever. I've already given him the warning. Once you hit the double digits (age 10), we won't celebrate the halves anymore. 

Although I may not be able to resist….after all, he may need a new swimsuit and who doesn't enjoy a good slice of cake and a smile?