How My Brilliant Idea Managed To Meltdown A Four Year-Old’s Birthday Party

At least my intentions were good when I ruined my four-year-old neighbor's birthday party.

It’s not that I meant to meltdown my four year-old neighbor’s birthday party.

Just talented, I guess.

And giftless.

Yes, I dared to walk into a four year-old’s party without a gift.

Crazy week, whatever.

I know when you’re four, you know birthday equals presents.

I did have what I thought was a brilliant idea.

I just happened to have an old Hot Wheels car laying around.

It must’ve been left over from a long ago visit from one of my nephews who are now in high school and college.

“It’s my birthday!” the birthday boy screamed as we walked into his party, scanning my arms for the goods.

I crouched down and explained my idea.

“We have a present coming for you, but it’s coming in the mail,” I said.

Yes, I lied to a four year-old.

You’re so proud, I can tell.

“In the meantime, you get this little race car and when the new present shows up we’ll swap.”

Much to my delight, he was delighted.

“I have a special race car!” he screamed as he zoomed throughout the house. “I have a special race car!”

This caught the attention of his two year-old brother and every other little boy at the party.

My fake present wasn’t the dud.

It was the star.

The disruptor.

The rest of the party was a wave of meltdowns over who got to play, hold and zoom the special race car and who had to be without in the spirit of sharing.

What I thought I had been a brilliant save was actually the key that unlocked a very basic human emotion.

“I want what he has.”

You get this, yes, Dear Reader?

How many of us were exposed this week as chasers of someone else’s happiness with the news of fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain taking their own lives?

How jealous do we get of others?

Of their wealth?

Their celebrity?

Their allegedly having it all?

How far past four years-old must we get to realize it isn’t the thing you want, it’s the feeling you think the thing will bring you.

Some people spend their whole life chasing someone else’s special race car.

What a sad, sick joke we sign up for–chasing the lives, accomplishments and wealth of people who, for whatever their real story is, are the most miserable of all.

Is there a magic fix?

At the birthday party there was.

Thank goodness my neighbor, the boys’ mom, knew what to do.

The special race car went into time out for the rest of the party.

Things calmed down, as much as they can in a house filled with boys.

Now, the hunt is on.

For a real present.

The one really coming in the mail.

The one that hopefully will inspire that special Hot Wheels race car feeling.

That’s for my sweet little neighbor.

For me?

The hunt is on for my own life.

My own blessings.

My own happiness.

Please share any thoughts in the Comments section below, such as what you’ve chased, what you’ve learned this week, and/or what would make an awesome present for a very sweet four year-old boy.

If enjoy this post, you might enjoy my book,

“Hope Possible: A Network News Anchor’s Thoughts On Losing Her Job, Finding Love, A New Career, And My Dog, Always My Dog.”

final front cover



How My Brilliant Idea Managed To Meltdown A Four Year-Old’s Birthday Party

by DarynKagan time to read: 2 min
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