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The Gift of Joy

I thought I would celebrate this birthday, which O’Ceallaigh kicked off yesterday in a spirit of fun and follies, by telling you a particularly charming story of a birthday past — my 40th.

The story doesn’t start all that charming. I received no birthday cards. No phone calls. No mention on the staff news. No greetings from co-workers. Worse, I’d looked in the mirror a bit too long and realized the primary color of my hair was gray (still is, under the blonde dye), wrinkles were starting to form at the corners of my eyes, and my life was over. Sob.

Off to work I shuffled. I was scheduled to be a sub that day for a kinder class. Most of the kinder kids knew me as, The Story Lady, because I visited their classroom once per week and I read to them some exciting this or that. They were thrilled to have me for a whole day. They brought me book after book and I read to them, but my performance must have lacked luster, because at just about lunchtime two of the tykes, Wesley and Kiki, toddled up to question me. I was sitting on the floor, so we ended up eye-to-eye.

Wesley asked, “Story Lady, why is yoos so sad?”

How do you explain something like that to a kid? I gave him an answer I thought he’d accept. “Because I’m old.”

He took my face is both his hands and studied it closely, then he frowned at me and pronounced, “Yoos not old. Yoos not got crinkles!”

Kiki added, “Asides, yoos has all your teefs!”

Quilly is the pseudonym of Charlene L. Amsden, who lives on The Big Island in Hawaii. When she is not hanging out with Amoeba, she is likely teaching or sewing. Or she could be cooking, taking photographs, or even writing. But if she's not doing any of that, she's probably on Facebook or tinkering with her blog.


  1. Happy Birthday Quill. I loved your story about your 40th, but didn’t you mean that it was a birthday future?

    I hope you have a great day.

  2. Happy Birthday, take 2, Quilly! I hope you get a bit more recognition today than on your 40th. Did you teach Kiki the Christmas Wish song?

    “All I want for Chrithmath ith my two front teef …”

  3. Brian — thank you. How sweet. I’m afraid 40 was a birthday long enough past that I am now seeing evidence of those crinkles. I do still have my own teefs, though one is cracked.

    OC I have already received more recognition today then I did on my 40th birthday. And no, I did not teach Kiki the Christmas Song. Teaching kindergartners Christmas songs in April is just too creul to all the parents of said children.

  4. Stella — thanks! So far, so good!

    OC — thank you, I think. I mean, I’m not certain I want to be linked forever with that post title …. pft! :*

    Donna — Thank you. Those kids were precious and wonderful. They remain one of my treasured birthday memories.

  5. 40 is the new 30, 30 is the new 20, and 20 is the new 10. Which is odd since 10 year olds are acting older than ever. So it all evens out anyway, and maybe the kids were right. 😀

    Here’s to your birthday and coming by crinkles honestly!

    Hippo birdie two ewes,
    Hippo birdie two ewes,
    Hippo birdie, deer Quilly.
    Hippo birdie two ewes.

  6. Brig thank you for that lovely song — do not teach it to my sisters!

    Today I would not gripe about being 40. Today I am griping about being … older.

  7. Happy birthday, my little inked feather.
    here is to many more, greta days in hawaii and long live your teeth!

    Oc…that was funny! Kicking of her birthday was sort of foolish though…I guess you balance out well 🙂

  8. Happy birthday, my little inked feather.
    here is to many more, greta days in hawaii and long live your teeth!

    Oc…that was funny! Kicking of her birthday yesterday was sort of foolish though…I guess you balance out well 🙂

  9. Polona I’m finding myself less then fond of this one, too. I don’t know why. Everyone is being so sweet, but there is definately an edge to my mood.

  10. LOL! Kids! Well… I certainly hope THIS birthday is going MUCH better than that one did! What was WRONG with those co-workers?

    Quilly… I understand that edge… I’m sure it has to do with the distance between you and OC… I’m betting there will be no edge on the NEXT birthday! 🙂

  11. Melli — I don’t believe I told anybody that it was my birthday that year. This year is different, because the office makes it known.

    As to the edge, I’m looking for somebody to push off of it. Charming, aren’t I?

  12. Brooke thank you. I’ll get to wish you the same in just a couple of days.

    Jackie The alarm clock woke me this morning. That made me very sad, but at lunchtime Caryl called me and sang to me. I suppose I can wait until after school — if I have to.

  13. What a great story with the little kids and how observant when most adults did not notice. Happy Birthday…I am glad you were born!

  14. Mike — Thanks!

    Lori — Little kids are very observant. And I think your birthday wishes are the nicest things anybody said to me today!

  15. Happy Birthday Quilly 😀 . I love your student story about your 40th and the best thing about it is that you know that children than age are incapable of telling a lie! (oh the things I have learnt about parents from the mouths of children that age! lol)

  16. Minka I swear I answered you yesterday, but for some reason my comments registered as spam. I must have missed yours when I retrieved them from my spambox! I am sorry!

    Jen The little ones do tell the truth — often at the darndest times!

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