The boy who doesn’t like birthdays

My younger son turned 15 the other day. I was excited. I get excited about all birthdays in our house. But the birthday boy? Not so much.

‘What do you want for your birthday?’

‘I don’t know.’

After racking my brain in desperation…

‘Do you want X?’


Because my son really isn’t bothered about his birthday.

I don’t get it. My other two kids always know what they want for their birthdays and they’re pretty easy to buy surprises for too. But my son is quite happy with what he’s got. He neither wants nor needs anything else.

He’s got his phone, his Switch, his iPad and his headphones. He likes playing football and rugby. He doesn’t need anything else. His genuine view is that he doesn’t need presents.

My husband offered to get him some new headphones (in desperation at not knowing what else to get), but he just said that he didn’t need any. Which is a quality I really admire. Why replace things that don’t need replacing? But it doesn’t help us with choosing presents. Nor his aunties and uncles and grandparents who want to know what to buy him.

‘Just give him money!’ I hear you cry, ‘All teenagers like money!’

Yes they do. Apart from this one. He is the least materialistic person I know.

Luckily, because he’s not really bothered whether he has a birthday or presents or not, he doesn’t really mind that he gets mainly clothes. As long as they’re understated ones in navy or grey with a small logo (preferably Jack Wills).

If he doesn’t know what presents he wants, surely he knows what he’d like to do on his birthday?

‘What do you want to do on your birthday?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘Do you want to go to X?’

‘I’m not bothered.’

‘Do you want to take your best friend to X?’

‘I don’t mind.’

‘Do you want to invite the family round for tea?’

‘I don’t know.’

And so it goes on. I don’t want to force him to go out if he doesn’t want to or invite the family round if he doesn’t want to. He just really doesn’t want the fuss.

He says he prefers Christmas, because it’s about everyone, not just him. Which is why I prefer my birthday, because it’s about me and not everyone!

He didn’t know what cake he wanted either.

He’s not being awkward, he’s just genuinely not bothered and doesn’t want a fuss. But that doesn’t help when I like to make birthdays special.

He was actually very pleased with his presents – a razor, an alarm clock that projects the time onto the wall and tells him the temperature outside (he doesn’t actually like the alarm element of the clock, of course) and a range of clothing in shades of navy with very small logos.

We ended up going out for lunch at a new coffee shop, having my family round for birthday cake and going to Five Guys for dinner. It wasn’t very exciting, but we made an effort and he was perfectly happy with that.

Birthday cake, 15th birthday, Son, Teenager, The boy who doesn't like birthdays

And the great thing about having an awkward boy with an October birthday who doesn’t know what he wants… You have to try and find him some Christmas presents only a few weeks later.

Author: Sarah Mummy

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  1. Ha Max is just the same – must be the birth date! In the end he had a new bag, some nice art pens and a t-shirt – and money in the bank for when he wants something….He isn’t fussed on doing anything either, so ended up similar to you – a family meal! He was happy – Syd totally doesn’t understand his lack of excitement tho!

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    • Glad it’s not just my son! Maybe it is the birth date, because my eldest wasn’t like that at 15. My other kids don’t understand the lack of excitement either.

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  2. My ‘about to turn 15’ son is exactly the same. Unlike his brother who plans for months, already knows what he wants for his birthday next April and what he wants to do for an outing and have for his birthday tea. This son’s not bothered about clothes, has the tech things he needs and really has no suggestions at all about what he’d like. It’s hard because I like to place equal emphasis on all my three’s birthdays! It’s in a few weeks so I need to get thinking and yes … then there’s Christmas!!!

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    • Glad it’s not just my boy, but I don’t blame the age because my eldest wasn’t like this. Like you, we like to treat them all equally on their birthdays although I think, ironically, we ended up spending more on my son because we got him an expensive razor! My daughter sounds just like your other son. She alway knows what she wants for presents and what she wants to do!

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  3. I think boys of this age are SO hard to buy for! My son will respond with ‘I don’t know’ until about 3 days before when he will present me with a big list. The problem? I’m a planner so have usually got it all by then lol! Glad you managed to find something to do and buy for him that he was pleased with.

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    • We always leave it to the last minute to shop for him in the vain hope that he might suddenly think of something he wants, but he didn’t think of anything this year! My other son has never been this hard to buy for, but maybe he’s the unusual one?!

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  4. Oh gosh, so difficult for you but I agree it’s lovely that he’s not materialistic. I hope he stays like that, it’s quite an unusual quality these days and so important as we try to reduce waste as a society.

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    • Thanks very much! I do feel quite proud of him, even though it can be frustrating. I like to think he’s got his lack of materialism from me! His siblings love new stuff and have always got plenty of ideas for their own birthday and Christmas presents! X

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