Learning to Live with Early Birthday Syndrome
Were you the last to get your drivers license, watch R-rated movies and go to bars? Soon you’ll stop blaming your parents for your early-enrollment and start thanking them.
By Mallory Arnold, Ohio University
I used to think that a good portion of life was a waiting game: waiting in traffic, waiting for coffee, waiting for food, waiting to hear back from internships, waiting for that guy to kiss you and waiting to finish long, over-drawn sentences.
Back when you were that 15-year old mess of braces, acne and wacky hormones, you just waited for the painfully awkward times to be over.
“When I get my braces off and pass my drivers test… that’s when my life begins,” you’d think.
Personally, I’ve pretty much always been the kid with pink and green braces while the rest of my friends smiled in colors of pearly white freedom. Why? Because I was young for my grade.
“Just a little bit!” I’d always squeak, ready to punch someone in the nose. Sometimes I could be quite the hostile child.
I’m one of those kids who could have been a little older in my grade or way younger in another. The August, October, September babies. For one reason or another, my parents sent me to school when I was four while everyone else was already five. It doesn’t seem like much of a difference in kindergarten, because everyone was playing with (chewing on) the same blocks, regardless of age.
But when my birthday would roll around, the teacher would write the wrong age on my celebratory paper hat. My friends would color 9 instead of 8 on my cards. When I would correct them, they’d be in so much shock that I’d go beet red and feel like I was the biggest oddball.
Going beet red didn’t help either. Have you ever done that in public? Makes embarrassing moments so much worse when people point out the lovely shade of magenta your face is.
I envied the older kids so much, because no one thought it was weird when their birthday candles added up to 13 or 14 when mine only counted to 12. They were all the normal age—the right age.
Of course it really wasn’t that big of a deal, but still.
Everything is a big deal when you hit middle school. Had to miss recess? Life is ruined. Timothy pushed you down in the mulch and ruined your overalls? Jumping off a cliff. Tamagotchi died? The world is over.
It’s all fun and games till someone’s Tamagotchi dies.
Speaking of dying, whenever I would correct someone on my age, I’d shrivel a little inside at the responses. You early born babies, let me know if any of these sound familiar.
“Really? Wow… How’d that happen?”
I don’t want to explain the birds and the bees to a 43-year old lady.
“AW! You’re a baby!”
Clearly, I am not. But I’ll cry like one if you keep pinching my cheeks like that.
“Wait, were you pushed forward? Are you like, really smart?”
Uh, yeah. Let’s just go with that.
“I’m SO much older than you!”
Oh yeah? Well you’ll die before me!
Not gonna lie, as a lot of youngins’ like me might relate, I have used that last line before. Huh, maybe I am immature.
Growing up, I’ve gotten the “too young” stamp on my forehead so many times I’m pretty sure there’s a permanent smudge mark above my eyes.
When I was 14, I went to a summer camp with my cousin. We were best friends, so it didn’t really matter that she was a few years older than me. Naturally, when we were sorted into cabins by age I wasn’t put with her, but with the younger kids.
But I was so close! Since my birthday is in October, I was just a little shy of being in the 15 and 16-year old cabin. Instead, the counselors wanted me to be put into the 12-14 age group cabin. My parents did some negotiating and eventually I squeezed my way in with my cousin, who was just as ecstatic as I was.
But girls can be a little mean. Some girls were real… developed. When the cute camp counselors came to inspect the cleaning of our cabin, a bunkmate suggested we stick out our chests as a joke.
(Ha ha ha, real clever.)
One tall girl in particular glared over at me and sneered,
“Don’t pretend like you have a chest. You’re like, 12.”
Imagine one of those big clown punching bag balloons. Now imagine that deflating. That was me.
I tried not to let things like that get to me, and no one was as openly mean about as that one girl (if you’re reading this, I broke your lanyard, bitch), but the waiting game became increasingly more important.
While everyone was getting their license, I was just barely there. So whenever my friends and I gathered together, someone would be assigned to picking me up. When everyone was allowed to go to R movies, someone had to buy my ticket. I was last to become an adult for chrissakes. And don’t even get me started on the drinking age.
So, trust me. I’ve had to do a lot of waiting time. And in that time, I’ve done some thinking and researching. Did you know that when you’re 14, you’re legally allowed to enter a bar and order a soda? When you’re 15, you can sing that heartbreaking Taylor Swift song “Fifteen” because it applies to you only. At age 16 you can fly a glider and buy liquor chocolates. Finally! If you’re 17 you can apply for a hot air balloon license! At 18, you can buy fireworks, because you’re an adult.
To be honest, I may have overreacted a bit about being younger. It’s not all bad. No one even notices or cares nowadays. Because eventually, I’m going to be wishing I was younger. The grass is always greener on the other side.
Unless, the other side has chinch bugs. Those things are the itchiest, tiniest, grass-eating bugs ever. Don’t go over to the other side if they have chinch bugs.
I’m tired of life being a waiting game. We all just look forward and hope that the next year will the better because we’re another year older. Take advantage of the time you have now, the friends you have now and the age you are now. If you’re always looking forward, then you forget to live.