The folks who say “oh, that means you’re only…” when they find out someone is born on Leap Day probably are not TRYING to be mean, but let’s think about this for a moment. Calling an 8-year-old “two” is kind of hurtful, because they’re finally coming into the full flush of sapience, and are now being told they’re a toddler. Calling a 12-year-old “three” is rotten, because they get accused of being babies any time they complain about something. And calling a 16-year-old “four” is simply bad form because calling a 16-year-old anything is like shooting depressed, teenaged fish in a barrel.
By the time the “oh, that means you’re only…” ends in a double-digit number, the leaper in question is forty, and has literally heard this same exact observation thousands of times. And while it shouldn’t matter to a forty-year-old (or, in my case, a forty-eight-year-old,) there is this buzzing noise at the subconscious level that tries to remind them of the times this happened when it felt like it did matter, but since the unexamined life is pretty common, all the subconscious can affect is an eye-roll and an oddly disconnected sense of unease.
Of course, by the time leapers are forty-eight, fifty-two, or seventy-six, folks are saying “it must be nice to only be…”, which is both terribly unoriginal, and mostly inaccurate. If I could go back to being 12, I would not, and not just because every time I complained about something, somebody told me I was being a baby. I *like* being an adult. It has all kinds of perks, not least of which is a measure of power that allows me to address a great many of the matters about which I used to helplessly wail while throwing food and crying.
In this vein, I think we should consider something a little fresher for adult leapers: instead of saying that only one in four of their birthdays counts toward their age, let’s treat February 29th as a non-day of sorts, and only count the years that do NOT have a leap-day in them.
Would I go back to being 36? Hmmm… that’s actually tempting. I’d be young enough to eat richer foods, and old enough to know better than to throw them.