My firstborn turns five today. Happy Birthday son!

As my wife began planning for his birthday party, several of our friends told her, “Five is a big birthday!” or words to that effect. This came as a surprise to both of us. Not that five isn’t a big deal, but that’s because every birthday is kind of a big deal when you’re a kid.

I’m not really sure why people were singling out the fifth year as some kind of milestone. I understand the attraction to multiples of ten and five, but that makes more sense when you’re older; 25, 30, 40, 50. It seems like the first couple decades of life have enough concrete milestones, having to do either with physical development or societal rules, that there’s no need to rely on properties of numbers.

  • One: hooray, the parents survived the first year! (This birthday is for anybody’s sake but the one-year-old. Every day is “happy birthday” when you’re that age.)
  • Two: old enough to blow out the candles.
  • Three: you may now play with toys that present a choking hazard.
  • Five: you qualify for kindergarten.
  • Seven: it is now okay to play with the Nintendo 3DS.
  • Thirteen: This is a really big one. PG-13. Facebook. Myspace.
  • Fifteen: learner’s permit.
  • Sixteen: driver’s license.
  • Eighteen: you can vote, be drafted, and buy cigarettes (but not beer). Age of consent, in most states.
  • Twenty-one: finally, you can buy your friends beer.

I’m sure I’m missing a bunch.