Emma Hollingworth: Why birthdays just aren’t the same . . .

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This week I am celebrating my birthday. Well I say celebrating but the reality is at my age (somewhere after 30 but before 40!) it is just like any other day.

As a child you wake up giddy with excitement the day of your birthday wondering what sort of presents you are going to be getting. As you bound eagerly out of bed and hurriedly get dressed, you can already smell your birthday cake being baked in the oven by your hard-working mother.

And waiting to greet you at the breakfast table is a flurry of cards and presents which have been sent by well meaning relatives and friends. Within moments shredded wrapping paper is littering the floor as you gasp in amazement at all the wonderful gifts you have received.

The cards are hastily stuffed into your book bag for “show and tell” as you head out of the door to school – with your heart singing in the knowledge you will be singled out for special attention by the class teacher today.

And it doesn’t end there. At home time you collect all your favourite friends and you all troop off towards your home for a special birthday party complete with balloons, birthday tea and jelly and ice-cream, not to mention the obligatory birthday cake and candles. Those were the days. Unless of course you were born in the holiday time – then it wasn’t so much fun for you.

I always felt sorry for the kids whose birthdays fell on weekends or in the school holidays. They missed out on being the centre of attention for the day. I particularly felt sorry for the children who had been born at Christmas time. No one was interested in what they got as we all had new presents to open then too.

But things definitely change as you get older. My birthday fell on a weekday which meant I was due at work that day. Great – just what I wanted. And also it was a school/nursery day for the kids, so my normal routine was not varied at all.

Get up, get dressed, get kids dressed, make beds and get them all fed then finally go to work. I didn’t even get given a cup of tea in bed; such is my tale of woe. And to top it all off for some strange reason when it is your birthday the rule is you bring in the cakes for everyone else to eat.

I miss those school days. Apparently at my daughter’s school you get given a special bun at dinner time when it is your birthday and you get to choose a friend to share it with.

That would be nice. In fact I would like to have the school dinners she has. That would do as a birthday treat for me.

I used to hate my school dinners – soggy semolina, concrete chips and gooey gravy. But according to my daughter they now have pizza with bases made from carrots and courgettes and chocolate cake from beetroot and cocoa. Much more interesting than in my day. Lucky kids.

For more information on the schools meals service visit: http://www.sheffield.gov.uk/education/information-for-parentscarers/at-school/educationschoolmeals