Born on Leap Year Day - The Pitfalls
- Leap year day baby Sharon Raiford Bush explains, in her own words, what it's really like to be born on February 29
Growing up as a leap year baby was cool.
During an off-year when my real birth date, February 29, did not have a presence on the calendar, the candles illuminating the home-baked cake my mother made for me on February 28, represented a cheerful and loving reminder that I was, in fact, a year older.
For three years in a row, I would relish the attention I would receive enjoying an un-birthday with my immediate family. Then came the big day – February 29.
That's when my parents would invite my friends and neighbors over for a celebration that included music, games, food, laughter and lots of gifts – even for the ones who attended my special birthday party that came about once every four years. That's right. My guests always walked away with an individually-wrapped present that served, for the most part, as a leap year day souvenir.
If your mind is in calculation mode, then you've already figured out I've only had three such birthday parties as a pre-teen. By the time I hit age 15, I was focused more on passing the test for my learner's permit to drive a car, followed by getting my driver's license on my next real birthday. That was the time I learned firsthand about the pitfalls of being born on leap year day.
During an off-year, many computers processing official identification records do not recognize February 29 as an actual calendar entry. I've encountered this technological migraine many times since my teen years.
I have even had clerks ask if it were alright for them to change my birthdate to February 28 or March 1. My suggestion to them, as it remains to this day, was to fix the problem because I was not born on February 28, nor did I take my first breath on March 1. I made my way into this computer-savvy world on February 29, leap year day.
I have encountered this chronic hiccup at the Department of Motor Vehicles, companies that process U.S. passports and even banks. Rather than take the time to override an obvious glitch in the system, too many humans are rather quick to attempt to convince me to alter my birthdate, which would make a liar out of my original birth certificate – the long form version.
Now that I am older and truly wiser, I no longer apply for much of anything during an off-year.
Within this leap year in 2012, I will be renewing my driver's license before year's end, opening new bank accounts and filling out applications to my heart's content.
Unfortunately, my new passport expires in 2021, which is not a leap year.
Hopefully, all computers will have caught up with Father Time and his cousin by then. Otherwise, here we go again.
ALSO: “Famous American Leapers”