Milestone birthdays make parents ask: where did the time go?

From cake frosting in their hair to the car keys in their hands, it all goes by so fast.

The years come and go, but some birthdays warrant extra reflection. (Jennifer Bardsley)

The years come and go, but some birthdays warrant extra reflection. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Every birthday your child celebrates is a reason to celebrate, but milestone birthdays warrant extra contemplation.

When your child turns one you bring out the “smash cake.” At least that’s what it’s called these days. Watching a one-year-old smash pastry and wipe icing in their hair is a party activity every guest can enjoy. Frosting ground into the carpet? How adorable!

The next birthday that’s a major event is when a child turns six and parents are faced with the question: should you invite a few kids over or the entire class? If that seems like a ridiculous question, then you might not have been to Kindergartener’s birthday party recently. There’s an entire birthday party industrial complex to support them. Popular venues include Pump it Up, The Little Gym, Elevated Sportz, Lynnwood Bowl & Skate, Flying Squirrel Trampoline Park, Jump, Rattle & Roll, Paint And Party, and more. Spending every other weekend at a classmate’s birthday party can become intense, but it’s a great way to make friends with other parents.

The move from 12 to 13 is awkward. Welcome to the teenage years. Do they want a party? Do they not want one? How dare you ask the wrong question? You don’t instantly know what they want? A phone, silly, all their friends had one ages ago. Jeesh! It’s soooo unfair that they haven’t gotten one yet. Ask them and they’ll tell you a million reasons they need an iPhone.

Sixteen rolls around along with a big sticker shock. Private driver’s ed classes will cost around $900, depending on where your kid goes. It seems like money well spent the first time you’re in the passenger seat and your teen is behind the wheel. Good luck with the imaginary break — you’re going to need it.

Eighteen comes and everyone’s ready for it — and not ready — at the same time. Your job is done but not yet finished. Your child’s an adult but still a teen. They’re too old for their pediatrician and kids’ dentist, but not entirely capable of scheduling their own appointments. Or are they? This is new territory for everyone. Are you their caregiver or the care adviser? It depends on whom you ask.

Looking back, it all happened so quickly. First, they were rubbing frosting up their nose, and then they needed help tying on their roller skate. A little while later they begged you for an iPhone, and then the keys to your car. Now, they’re driving off to their futures with a piece of your heart.

Slow down, little one. What’s the hurry? There’s no need to grow up too fast.

Jennifer Bardsley is the author of “Sweet Bliss,” “Good Catch” and more. Find her online on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as @JenniferBardsleyAuthor. Email her at

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