Whatever happened to …

… summer?

This might be a little personal but it’s real life.

As many of you know, I had a birthday last week. It happens every year around this time.

From my perspective as a student/teacher in school, it had its pluses and minuses.


My birthday never happened during the school year. I’m not the type of guy that likes to have a great deal of attention so I never had to worry about those dreaded classroom birthday parties. You know, the ones where everyone brings a gift and pretends to be your best friend for a day. Thankfully, you grow out of it when you get to secondary school.

The mathematician in me, later in life, was astounded by the number of people that I worked with who also had birthdays on August 14. Do Leos tend towards being teachers?


Unless you have an August birthday, this might be a little strange. As a kid, birthdays are kind of a big deal. I can remember waiting in anticipation all summer for my birthday. Then, it happens, and I realized in the aftermath that there were only two weeks left until school started. The sun had already started to set early and it got cooler at night. The public pool dropped in temperature and we knew that it would close on Labour Day.

In terms of parties, it was a challenge to get all my friends there. After all, it was in the summer and many of them had gone on holidays and to cottages. So, unlike those who had their big birthday parties during the school year with complete attendance, I might have had a handful at best.

The impending two weeks got even shorter as a teacher and then teacher consultant as we always seemed to have professional learning sessions that preceded the school year for a week, sometimes two making return to work something to be done.

AND THE WORST PART? There are no cool gifts available at that time but there was lots of “back to school” stuff.

So, such is the sad story of my life.

How about your birthday or summer thoughts?

  • Think about your own birthday – is it perfectly timed? Can you identify pluses and minues for it?
  • Do we overdo birthdays in school?
  • Do you do something for those students in the class with summer birthdays or is it just a case of “sucks to be you”. (Thanks Lisa Cranston for teaching me that)
  • As a teacher, do you have a sense of walls closing around you as you realize that the end of summer and the beginning of a new school year approaches?
  • Do you get more sensitive to allergic reactions as the plants start to die off in late August, giving up their allergens?
  • Does summer always seem to run out before your planned list of things to do in the summer does?
  • Despite all my woes, birthdays always featured a cake from Bartliff’s. I know it’s a Clinton thing, but it’s a big deal there. Do you have a favourite place to get birthday cakes?
  • What’s your favourite type of cake? For my birthday, it was the only time of the year we had vanilla. The rest of my family liked chocolate.

I’d be interested in reading your summer/birthday thoughts. Please leave them in the comments below.

This year, my wonderful wife gave me an awesome gift. My daughter had taken a great picture of Jaimie and she had it painted by a local artist. It’s now proudly on the wall in the rec room.

This post originally appeared on


If you read it anywhere else, chances are the scraper’s birthday isn’t in August and they didn’t write it anyway.

Author: dougpete

The content of this blog is generated by whatever strikes my fancy at any given point. It might be computers, weather, political, or something else in nature. I experiment and comment a lot on things so don't take anything here too seriously; I might change my mind a day later but what you read is my thought and opinion at the time I wrote it! My personal website is at: http://www.dougpeterson.ca Follow me on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/dougpete I'm bookmarking things at: http://www.diigo.com/user/dougpete

8 thoughts on “Whatever happened to …”

  1. First of all, happy belated birthday! You are really getting me to think about birthdays now. For the past few years, my teaching partner and I never really did much to celebrate birthdays in class. We’d sing “happy birthday” with everyone (usually at the end of the day), but a few kids asked that we didn’t for them, so we didn’t. That said, I found it interesting when the class came up with different things for birthday kids to do: from getting them a special chair to sit up front next to the VIP (helper for the day) to making them cards and presents (because they truly cared about them). This was never something we suggested or encouraged, so it was great to see that it happened. To me, it somehow made it more special.

    As for my birthday, it’s almost always on March Break, so as a child growing up, kids were also away then. I usually ended up having my party before or after March Break, so that more people could come. Growing up though, I became fascinated that my birthday was on International Women’s Day, and one of my two majors in university was in Women’s Studies (now called Gender Studies, I think). Was there some kind of draw to this subject based on my birthday alone? I wonder …

    On a different note, in the last few years, I’ve noticed more parties that include the whole class (everyone invited to Zoom Zooms or Flying Squirrel) and more parties in the middle of the week, and sometimes on the actual birthday. Maybe this leads to a “whatever happened to birthday parties” post? My parents always followed the “age, plus one” rule, and we often had parties at our house. These seem unheard of now. You really have given me a lot to think about. Curious what others think.



  2. My birthday is also in August… the 19th and this year it’s my 40th! As a camp kid I had so many birthdays at camp so parties were never really an issue I had to consider but I do feel like the end of summer is closing in fast. My daughters are born in Nov and Jan, plus my husband is Jan. With those three dates plus Christmas all together it makes for a busy and expensive season.

    I never did much for birthdays in class as a classroom teacher, I usually took my cue from the kids themselves. But I never really liked the bring in a loot bag for the class tradition. It’s always useless plastic junk, not ever family can afford it or wants to do it and it’s not necessary.

    It probably stems from my parents- we don’t celebrate their birthdays; just a phone call and they never made a big deal of ours. My husband LOVES birthdays and any holiday with a gift. He loves giving gifts. I always say I don’t need anything. 17 years later it’s still a sticking point at every holiday.


  3. My birthday and my youngest brother’s birthday are also in August. My middle brother is in July. My Dad always believed that gifts should be given when useful and not just on special days. For example, why wait until August when summer is getting over to give a bicycle when giving it at the beginning of the summer will mean it gets used far more. So that he what he did.

    For a number of years my birthday came during time away from home at summer camp. No big deal party there. So birthdays were never a big deal for me. Although one year my Dad showed up for my birthday and gave me a Thompson (no relation) chain reference Bible with my name in gold ink on the cover. I came across it today. I’ve had it for over 50 years now. Its the one present I really remember and while it is somewhat worse for wear I can’t see parting with it.


  4. First of all, happy birthday to Beth tomorrow….I got married on her 16th birthday!

    My birthday is perfect for me. I’m an October baby, and my birthday usually falls right around Thanksgiving. I didn’t totally appreciate how much difference that made for me until I baked Mr 18’s birthday cake this year. He won’t be home for his March birthday anymore, and that hit me like a ton of bricks. I always got to be with my family at Thanksgiving, even after I left home, so I always felt like that was my birthday celebration, and my mom would make a chocolate cream pie (my preferred birthday dessert) to go with the other Thanksgiving treats. Thanksgiving for most of my life was usually celebrated at the family cottage, which is one of my favourite places in the universe, so that was a birthday gift as well.

    What is this store-bought birthday cake of which you speak? My husband and I both come from lines of frugal bakers, and no one in my family can stand store-bought icing, so homemade cakes or desserts are always the requests at this house. And yes, that is my bias, I know.

    I don’t make much fuss with my intermediate students about birthdays. We put them on the in-class event calendar, and we’ll sing if the student wants us to – that’s about as exciting as it gets.


  5. Happy belated birthday! My birthday is on December 15, and December is such a busy time of year. Having a celebration always had to be negotiated around Christmas concerts and other seasonal events. My mom was always very specific about making my birthday seem separate from Christmas, with birthday wrapping paper not Christmas paper, and the tree didn’t go up until after my birthday. When I got married, I didn’t care what date we set as long as it wasn’t in December. I wouldn’t want to get my birthday, anniversary and Christmas presents all in one month and nothing for the rest of the year.

    We never really did a big deal about birthdays in class – maybe sing happy birthday. I’ll never forget that one year when I was teaching kindergarten a parent asked if they could bring in cake for their son’s birthday. They were excited to be in Canada (newcomers from Kurdistan) and wanted to take part in this tradition. My teaching partner and I said sure. The day of the birthday, mom, dad, sister, aunts, uncles, cousins, all arrived with the cake and everyone was very dressed up. My partner and I were completely caught off guard, but we just decided to go with the flow and ended up with a huge impromptu birthday party in our classroom for an hour.

    BTW I still remember that you’d never heard ‘sucks to be you’ until that day in your office. LOL


  6. What a wonderful way to open your classroom doors to newcomers. I’ll bet they all appreciated it. As for my office on that day, I didn’t think I ever was going to stop laughing. I’ve used that phrase is many a conversation since then! Thanks.


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