My youngest daughter is as outgoing and precocious as you’d imagine the baby in a family with eight children would be. We welcomed her into our world on a hot June day, in what would later become the week of our annual trip to singing camp in Alabama.

In 2011, the first year we attended, Lily lost her two front teeth on her sixth birthday. As predicted, it’s a story we still share. Now that my daughter is almost ten, she realizes that having a birthday the week of singing school complicates her celebration.

Years ago I started the tradition of the birthday date: either a lunch or movie day out with me. My husband is a shoe-in for most fun parent, but this one earns me big bonus points. Most of our kids have a brother or sister with a birthday within six days of theirs (crazy, right?), so sometimes they combine days and dates and we do both a meal and a movie.

Months ago, my youngest looked at upcoming releases and picked Inside Out for her birthday movie. We saw a screening last week (brilliant movie!), so that’s checked off of her list. But what she really wanted was dinner at the local Italian restaurant known for offering a free meal on your birthday, the restaurant the other kids choose most.

Last month she decided she didn’t want to go to singing school if she’d miss that meal. When I told her it wasn’t an option, she suggested she and I stay home until after her birthday and then join the other kids. The girl is determined!

Sunday night she asked if I would take her for her birthday meal. The restaurant requires proof of birthdate, which the manager confirms. As much as I sympathize with her cause, I wouldn’t lie about the date of her birth.

“Why don’t you call and explain?” I asked. Most kids this age wouldn’t consider it, but my Lily isn’t like most kids.

“Okay!” she said, and grabbed the phone.

Her call was transferred to the manager, who listened and then told her to come in and ask for her by name. When we arrived, it was obvious the staff were impressed with this little girl who wasn’t afraid to call and explain how much she wanted to eat at their restaurant for her birthday, so much so that she was willing to miss a week at camp.

They gave her the full birthday treatment, and stressed more than once that the free meal is usually only on the day of your birth. She learned two valuable lessons: don’t be afraid to ask—you never know what might happen!—and honesty is always the best policy. 



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