"Dad," my 9-year-old said en route to school earlier this week. "Big weekend coming up. Big, big, big.''
I thought, "Here it comes. He's going to tell me he knows Friday (today) is my birthday, and he's getting a jump on it by wishing me a happy one. What a great kid.''
Wrong about the birthday, but he is a great kid.
"Got our last (flag) football game Saturday and then Anthony Guzzo's birthday party. Anthony's a great guy, Dad. What an athlete. Always helping me. And Sunday is Luke Lofgren's birthday. Another great guy. Another great athlete. Him, Zack Carpita and Anthony are always helping me. Big weekend, Dad.''
Not a word about dear old Dad turning 21 for the 33rd time. Nada, zip, zilch. And that's OK -- kind of.
No matter how we play it, we all want our birthdays to be recognized. Anyone who plays the "humbug'' or "I don't care'' card is not sharing all the truth.
In some way, shape or form, we all care. We want someone to notice, though I can see someone right now turning to a buddy over coffee and saying, "Couldn't care less about my birthday. Marx is wrong as usual.''
As kids, we want a party -- the bigger, the better. I know this because every June I play birthday roulette with my son, wondering what we can do to stay even or go beyond last year.
As a teen, we want gifts but not much of a party with our family. We're hoping our peers sense it's a big day and plan something for us. Strange hats at themed restaurants seem to play a role, with Facebook photos to follow.
The milestone birthdays also are big -- 18, 21, 30, 40, 50, etc. -- where we hope something is planned, usually a surprise, and people make a big deal about it.
Some folks embrace this and have a great time, while others play it off on the outside. Inside, though, they are busting at the seams someone noticed. It's OK to look forward to the day, but keep your expectations in check. And it's OK to enjoy the day.
Today will be a normal day, though inside I'm excited about turning 54. I'll get a book on baseball from my son, get my wife tires for her car, make it appear like I'm working, coach some football and go home. I will hear from a few friends, get calls from my family and a hug -- if we win -- from my son. (Birthday or not, he's not much for losing.)
Embracing one's birthday is OK, especially if no one thought you'd make it beyond 25.
Columnist John Marx can be reached at (309) 757-8388 or firstname.lastname@example.org.