When the Leaves Fall from the Trees
By Ben Merens
This month, SCP welcomes guest author Ben Merens. Lucky will return in December. If you are inspired by parenting and would like to contribute a future column, send Lucky an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My two-year-old daughter and I were talking recently about birthdays. Actually, the discussion began when she asked me to tell about the day she was born.
I tell her about mom being in the hospital and calling dad in the middle of the night. (The doctor had planned to induce labor on Friday afternoon. But she fooled us and chose to leave the womb very early on that Friday morning).
I tell her about holding her after she came out of mom’s tummy and how we put her under a warm lamp because she was kind of cold when she was born. And then I tell her how mom fed her and told her “I love you” right away.
And I tell her about how it snowed on her birthday and we all spent the day in the quiet of the hospital room… just the three of us. We all took a nap together. And then she came home.
Then I ask her. Do you know when your birthday is?
She surprised me by saying “Yes I do!”
“Oh really, and when is it?” I asked, anxiously awaiting her response. She is smart enough to tell me when she doesn’t know the answer to a question. So when she said she knew when her birthday was, I knew she’d say something that made sense to her and maybe to me. But I couldn’t imagine what that would be. I was quite sure, however, that it wasn’t going to be November 10th (her actual date of birth).
“When the leaves fall off the trees Dad,” she said triumphantly. She smiled with the pride and satisfaction of knowing the answer to such an important question.
But how did she manage to come up with this? I wondered. Then I realized that last year during the weekend of her birthday I was raking leaves into several piles in the back yard.
And when the day of her party turned out to be a balmy 50 degrees and sunny, she and her friends ran outside and jumped in the leaves until the piles had been completely dispersed, as if they’d never existed.
So, that is why she knows her birthday is “when the leaves fall from the trees.”
There is something so innocent about the answer. So pure and real that I marvel at the simplicity of it. For my daughter, the month of November doesn’t even exist. But the change of the seasons is as real as she is.