Twice this week my kids got to plan and carry out one of their favorite feats – calling up a relative to sing “Happy Birthday” to them.
It has become a ritual. Just before the ‘birthday boy’ or ‘girl’ answers the phone (or voicemail picks up), the kids prepare. My oldest son (13) stands at attention, ready to corral the other two, should they fail to fall into line. My daughter (10) fixes her hair, throws her shoulders back, and clears her throat as if readying for an operetta. And my youngest son (6) wriggle-jig-hops like a monkey-frog creature who is simply too jazzed to hold all 42 pounds of himself still for a split-second.
Can’t you just feel the excitement!!??!
Children and birthdays. They go together like pizza and soda-pop.
A birthday is generally a bit livelier and more joyful when kids help you celebrate it, even in a small way – as through a phone call.
Why is that?
Let’s not pretend that kids are perfect. Let’s not say that they aren’t selfish (because all humans are). And let’s not delude ourselves into thinking that this birthday singing business isn’t (for the older ones anyway) at least in part about performance. Because the truth is, children have egos that grow bigger over time, just like their bodies. They will ultimately become like us – grown-ups who have to figure out how to handle that conundrum.
But I will suggest this: Kids don’t look at other people through jaded eyes. They simply see people. One person. Another person. Another person… and so on. And kids rejoice at every opportunity to celebrate.
People + celebration opportunities.
Put these things together and what do you get? Many reasons to sing. For there are people everywhere. And each one has a birthday.
Our hearts soften when we sing “Happy Birthday” with good intentions. Have you noticed? Even in the quiet confines of our minds. Even when we sing to someone who doesn’t hear us.
Try singing silently to the person who cuts you off in traffic. Sing to the scowling clerk behind the counter. Sing to the pushy colleague who is always rubbing you the wrong way. Sing to the irritating family member who is standing on your last nerve.
Sing. Sing a happy song. See if your soul doesn’t rejoice just a tiny bit, in a monkey-frog wriggle-jig-hop kind of way.