Still a Child?

Since I started writing A Story A Week, there have been four occasions to date that one of my family members has happened to have a birthday on Sunday, the day that the stories are published. My eldest daughter Himi, both of my parents, and my grandson Alex have thus come to be featured in past stories because of this. Today though, I have a bit of a problem; it is the birthday of yet another family member, but it's not so easy for me to write a 'feature' story about him. Or perhaps the problem is that I have written too much about him! Yes, as you can perhaps guess, it's my turn ... I'm 56 today.

In Canada, November 11th is Remembrance Day, set aside to commemorate soldiers killed in the two world wars. That particular date was chosen because it was on the 11th of November in 1918 that the armistice that brought the fighting of the First World War to an end was signed. Observance of this holiday varies quite widely from place to place, but in the years that I was a schoolboy, it wasn't a general closing day, and we all went to school as usual. But exactly at eleven o'clock in the morning, we had to stand by our desks (or sometimes assemble in the gymnasium), and all activity came to a stop for two minutes of silence, in honour of those soldiers.

Now of course, none of this had anything to do with me at all, but because of these things, I always had the feeling that my birthday was a bit of a 'special' day. It's funny though, that the birthday that was supposed to be the most special for me - the one where I became an adult - never happened!

We lived in British Columbia in Canada while I was in my late teens. In that province at that time, what they called the 'age of consent' - the age at which one could vote, sign contracts, and legally act as an adult - was set at 21. Most young people looked forward to their 21st birthday with quite some anticipation, because there was one other activity that became permitted for the first time on that day ... to legally drink!

Honestly speaking, that adult privilege wasn't one that bothered me at all, as I wasn't interested in drinking. (Believe it or not, there are such things as teenagers who don't smoke or drink!) But even without that particular anticipation, of course I was ready to reach the milestone birthday, and become an 'adult'. But I never got the chance! Eh? Am I still a legal 'child'?

No, of course not. Sometime during the years when I was 19 or 20, the government of the day changed the laws, and lowered the age of consent to 19. So on some random day when the law came into force, I became an adult but never even noticed it! And so a short time later when I did become 21 years old, nothing changed at all; it was 'just another' birthday.

Here in Japan, Remembrance Day is of course not recognized at all, as this country has its own commemorative events, so there is really nothing left for me to feel 'special' about. But if I think about it hard enough, perhaps I can find something ... Yes, I've got it!

If you write my birthdate down in normal Japanese fashion - year/month/day - look what you get! 51/11/11 ... a five followed by five ones. Surely, nobody can forget that once they have seen it!

Will you remember next year? :-)


Comments on this story ...

Posted by: Sharri

Hi Dave,
Truly enjoyed your story and feeling as a child that your birthday was a National special day. I've always felt that way since my birthday is Jan 1. I took it to heart when my folks told me that the whole Western world celebrated my birthday. I think it is grand that they still do. And, lets stay child-like as long as we can - adulthood is highly over rated :-)

Posted by: Dave

Wow ... January 1st! Did your mother win a prize for the 'First Baby of the Year'? I'm sure you would really feel that your birthday is special!

Posted by: Gayle

Dave, when our youngest son, Jeremy, had his first birthday with cake and candles, as he sat in his high chair to amaze at the wonder before him, his brother (four years older) said, as fireworks went off in the distance, "how did everyone know it was Jeremy's birthday?" It was fourth of July, Independence Day in the U.S.

Happy Birthday 51/11/11! Sorry it's a day-late wish.

Posted by: Dave

Having a birthday on a holiday seems like a neat thing to happen ... all except for the big one ... Christmas! We all have to feel sorry for those kids!

Posted by: Jakub Makalowski

Imagine how it might feel to be born on Jan 1st, 2001. Not only can you think of yourself as the first baby of a new millennium, but with 01/01/01, you never have to worry what order any given country writes dates in.

And I suppose remembering is much less of an effort now since skype sends a message whenever it may be someones birthday.

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Japanese readers can click here to view the story on a page with a link to vocabulary assistance.