My daughter turned eleven on Christmas Day. She is growing so fast! Her birthday reminded me of a short story I wrote several years ago. This story was inspired by something my little girl did–I think she was about six or seven years old when she blew out her brother’s candles on his birthday cake before he got a chance to, and he was very upset by it. This little incident became memorialized in the story I call Camille and the Messed Up Birthday Wish. It’s a children’s story, but a little on the longish side, so I’m going to break it up into two posts.
Camille was jealous. It was her brother Alex’s big day, his 14th birthday. He was getting old. All of his friends and their family were coming to visit. For sure he would get lots of presents. But nobody was going to bring any presets for Camille. She was going to be 7 ½ in a few weeks. Didn’t that count for anything?
Sure enough, aunts and uncles started to arrive. They brought many packages in bright paper and fancy, colorful ribbons. She thought the presents would have looked better if they were pink with rainbow balloons and unicorns for the print, but Alex didn’t like those things. His presents had cars and footballs and such printed on the wrapping paper instead.
Camille was curious what was inside a particularly large present, so she started playing with it and picking at the tape. She hoped that she would be able to see what was under the gift wrap. Then her daddy caught her and told her to leave the presents alone in his very stern, serious voice that meant business. So she did.
After a while all the guests had arrived. They sat together in the living room, surrounding Alex and not her. Camille’s mommy carried a very large cake out from the kitchen.
The cake was rectangular shaped, with a picture of Alex’s face airbrushed on it. Camille thought the cake would have looked better with flowers and a fairy with a sparkly tiara on it. But Alex didn’t like fairies or tiaras. So it just said, “Happy Birthday, Alex!” instead.
On the cake were 14 candles, which her daddy very carefully lit. Everyone sang the “Happy Birthday” song, even Camille. She tried to sing it louder than everyone else. Then her grandpa told Alex to make a wish before he blew out his candles.
The candles burned brightly while Alex closed his eyes to think of a good wish. Camille watched in dismay the wax dripped onto the cake. Alex was taking too long for his wish. The candles were melting too fast! So Camille, acting quickly, took a deep breath, leaned over and…
…blew hard on the candles. One by one, they all winked out. Whew! The cake was safe! With her strong lungs, she had rescued the cake and blew out all the candles in one giant breath.
“Camille!” Alex yelled.
Her mom and dad, her aunts and uncles, and various other relatives all looked upset, too. They told her what she did was a bad thing, not a good thing. It wasn’t nice of her to blow out Alex’s candles like that.
So her daddy re-lit the candles. Then Alex blew them out, this time without stopping or closing his eyes. He blew every single candle out in one breath, just like Camille had done. Then, the cake was served with some vanilla bean ice cream.
For the rest of the party, Camille sat off in a corner. She was mad. She fumed. She pouted. Everyone was paying attention to Alex, not her. And she had gotten in trouble. She hated getting in trouble. She was glad when Alex unwrapped his last gift and the party guests finally went home. Alex’s big day was over at last.
The next morning, Camille watched her favorite TV show. The show had contests all of the time, which she always asked her mommy to enter her in. Today they were going to give away a Fairy Princess Doll, among other prizes. Camille really wanted that doll.
Camille was so excited when the announcer said that she was one of the winners in that day’s contest. Yes! But then he said what she won: a Super Secret Agent Man Action Figure with SCUBA gear and five super secret action phrases.
What? That isn’t what she wanted! Camille was upset. How could that be? She wanted the Princess doll, not some stupid action figure. And what on Earth was a SCUBA, anyway?
Later that week, a package came in the mail for Camille. Alex brought her the package. He stood and watched her open it, curious about what she had gotten. When she opened it, there was the action figure inside the box. Camille tossed the box onto the kitchen table in disgust.
Alex got excited. He didn’t know she had won that contest. “Wow! You got a Super Secret Agent Action Man!” he said. “Those are collectibles. I wished I had one of those for part of my birthday wish.”
He reached for Camille’s new action figure. She grabbed the box away from him. “You can’t have it. I won it in a contest. It’s mine!”
Then Camille ran with the toy into her room and threw it onto the top shelf of her closet. She was sure Alex wouldn’t find it there.
Camille flopped on her bed and picked up her favorite stuffed animal. It was a soft green frog that she liked to pretend was a prince. She hugged him close and suddenly felt very bad. Why had she been so mean to Alex? Then she thought of all the times he had noogied her and didn’t feel bad anymore.
When Saturday came, Camille’s parents prepared to go out. She didn’t know why her mommy and daddy insisted on going anywhere without her, but they had been going out on these Saturday date nights for a while now. So Camille was used to it.
She still didn’t like her parents going out though, because it meant that her parents hired a babysitter. She didn’t like her babysitter too much. Her babysitter was boring. She just yakked on the telephone all the time and never paid her too much attention.
But this Saturday was different. Her usual sitter couldn’t babysit anymore because she was moving. Her mom found another sitter at the last minute to take the old sitter’s place. Camille hoped the new babysitter would be nice.
Sure enough, when the new babysitter showed up, Camille discovered that it was none other than Patty, a girl who lived down the street from them. Patty was pretty and nice. Mostly. Patty got mad at her when she got into Patty’s purse and played with her make-up and played dress up with her pretty purple jacket. It probably didn’t help that Camille accidentally spilled juice all over Patty’s jacket.
Alex was staying at a friend’s house that weekend, so he missed out on seeing Patty. When he got back on Sunday and learned that Patty had been there, he seemed bummed.
“Why are you so sad, Alex?” Camille asked.
“Mind your own business.”
Camille didn’t understand why he was being so grumpy. Then she noticed that some of Alex’s school folders had pictures of hearts with arrows through them. In the center of some of the hearts were the letters P A T T Y.
Aha! Now she got it. Alex had a crush on Patty. Camille made kissy noises to Alex until he gave her a super nuclear wedgie to her underpants to make her stop.
Later that Sunday, Camille’s grandpa came to visit. He had Camille get dressed to go out and spend the day with him. Camille was excited. She was going to have her grandpa all to herself!
Grandpa seemed excited, too. He said that he had something special planned for the two of them. And the next thing Camille knew, she was sitting in some bleachers watching some monster trucks crush cars and other cars belch out giant flames.
Where were the ponies? The skating rink? Grandpa said they were going someplace special. When Camille realized that this monster truck rally was what he meant, she was very disappointed. Who liked stupid ol’ monster trucks anyway?
As it turned out, Alex did. When he heard their grandpa took Camille to see the monster trucks, he looked jealous.
“Aw, man!” he groused. “I wished for that on my birthday.”
That got Camille thinking. Alex wished to go to the monster truck rally for part of his birthday wish. But she got to go instead. He wished for a Super Secret Agent Man Action Figure, too. But Camille won it instead. Camille was pretty sure he wished to spend time with Patty, too, even if he wouldn’t admit it. And who got to spend time with Patty on Saturday? She did, of course.
Camille gasped. She must have accidentally stolen Alex’s wishes when she blew out his birthday candles! Oh no! She hadn’t meant to do that. She didn’t want his wishes. His wishes were stupid, icky older brother wishes. She wondered what else he might have wished for that she was going to have to be bothered with. She also wondered if it was possible to keep from getting any more of her brother’s wishes.
Stay tuned for the rest of the story tomorrow.