This birthday differed from previous ones in other notable ways as well. Unlike elementary school, where your name gets mentioned during the morning announcements, and you proceed to the front office to pick up your special Happy Birthday pencil, and Mom is allowed to supply treats to your class for an end-of-the-day celebration...in Middle School you get nuthin'. In fact, when I innocently inquired as to whether Derek would like me to share the news with his soccer buddies, the answer (not unexpectedly) was a horrified and vehement NOOOOO! Evidently the Code of Brotherhood in 6th through 8th grades calls for a heartwarming ceremony...of birthday punches...to honor the celebrant and provide good fortune in the coming year. Now, who wouldn't want that kind of attention? Oh yeah...anyone in their right mind...) So, I refrained from spreading the word this past weekend. But someone let the proverbial cat out of the bag at school anyway, and he told me that he'd suffered quite a few blows to mark the first day of his thirteenth trip around the sun. (And also three hugs: from me, from his girlfriend, and from one teammate, who reportedly picked him up completely off the ground in his enthusiastic clutches. At least there was some love, to go along with the rough delivery of "luck".)
Then when he returned from soccer practice he regaled me with the tale of how one of his pals had greeted him upon his arrival with an enthusiastic shout of "There's Derek, it's his birthday!" At which point the entire squad had commenced a rowdy chase...while attempting to pelt him with all available soccer balls. (Imagine a dozen sweet-but-over-enthusiastic-and-uncontrolled boys...running amok...that must have been quite a scene.) "Hmm, I wonder how they found out," I mused, "because I didn't mention it to anybody." Ohhhh... then it dawned on me, and I sheepishly confessed: "except...I might have posted it on Facebook this morning..." He just stared at me, open mouthed, before going off on a sarcasm-laden tirade, something along the lines of "No, you didn't tell anyone, just the WHOLE WORLD (blah blah blah)..." I wasn't really listening, you see, since I was busy laughing on the inside at inadvertently having caused his team riot. Eh, these things happen, yeah? He appears to have survived the birthday trauma, and safely entered into his teenage years with minimal scarring...so far.
And just think, we haven't even had the family party yet...with CAKE. So I'll just have to remind him: fret not, my son, the best truly is yet to come...