To help or not to help, that is the problemJune 5, 2018
Today is my birthday. When I say that I celebrate my birthday in the summer, everyone envies me. They think about the sun and the heat, about diving into the swimming pool, and about games to be played in the open air. What, instead, comes to my mind is having a birthday without my friends. And by this I don’t mean that I have no friends, but rather that I have friends but cannot spend the day of my birthday with them. It has been years now since I have been able to organise a party, because naturally also for them, summer means a holiday or a trip away from home with one’s own family.
I still remember my seventh birthday. I had finished the first year of elementary school, and I was very exuberant; I had made friends with all the children in my class. During the year, I saw several of them also after school and on weekends. It was June and school was over: I could finally enjoy three whole months of holidays, entertainment and rest. I continued to play with several of my companions, and we met at summer school. When my mother reminded me that it would soon be my birthday, I couldn’t believe it. I would celebrate it with everyone at summer school, and we would have an absolutely wonderful time. The organisers had also decided that on the very day of one’s birthday, it was permitted to skip holiday homework assignments, and so everything would have been perfect.
However, my elation did not last very long. While my friends shared my happiness, they would not be able to be present because they would be away on holiday. And I don’t mean one or two friends; I mean all of them. Unbelievable! All my plans and all my ideas for celebrating went up in smoke in a very few minutes. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, and in the end my sulky face got the better of me and I moved away from everybody. I didn’t want to talk about it. That day, all attempts at consoling me were useless.. Indeed, when I got home my mother must have heard lots of complaints, including one against the fact of their having permitted me to be born in summertime, when everyone went on holiday.
I spent my seventh birthday with my family. For heaven’s sake, it was a very enjoyable day, full of surprises and presents; however, I felt the absence of my friends on a day that, for me, was very important. And after six years, here I am again in a similar situation. Several of my friends are the same ones I had in elementary school; others, instead, I met at school or when playing sports together. The fact is that today is my birthday, and they are all away on holiday. By now I am used to this; however, I continue to dream of the day that I will spend the day together with my best friends. Perhaps I shall have to wait until I am eighteen years old: truly hilarious birthdays will begin at that point.
I imagined how my eighteenth birthday would be at every moment of my return home. As soon as I opened the door to the house, however, I almost had a heart attack. A sudden noise, and handfuls of confetti landed on me, with voices that were shouting, “Happy Birthday!”. I could hardly believe my eyes: in addition to balloons and festoons, all my friends were there, smiling and ready to celebrate my birthday! I was speechless, because I couldn’t understand: they were all supposed to be away at the sea. They explained to me that that this year, differently from the preceding ones, they would be going on holiday during the coming weeks. They had kept this a secret from me so that they could organise a surprise party. I couldn’t hide my happiness from them: the surprise had turned into pure joy. I had a smile on my face that would probably remain there until that evening. My dream had finally come true: happy birthday to me!
Psicologa e Assegnista di Ricerca
presso il Dipartimento di Scienze Umane per la Formazione dell'Università di Milano-Bicocca.