To those of you thinking that it’s already March, you’re wrong.
If you have looked at the calendar this morning, it is actually February 29th. How can this be? Why do we have this extra day?
To provide a very simple answer to this question, we need to look at the difference between a calendar year and a solar year. A calendar year is 365.00 days. 366.00 days every four years. Why? It is because of the solar year. A solar year is 365.2424897 days. To be exact, that’s 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes and 45.14 seconds.
Now that we understand what a solar year is, would it really make sense to observe a quarter day every year? It would be quite absurd to observe 5 hours, 48 minutes and 45.14 seconds of a day right after midnight on New Years Day. Imagine starting January 1st at 5:48 a.m.!
Instead of that absurdity, an extra day is added to our calendar every four years to compensate for this solar year mess. And the month of February was chosen to do this.
Why February? Why not have a March 32nd or a June 31st? The simple answer to this is because of the Roman calendar. For the Roman calendar, the year began in March and ended in February. For their February calendar, it consisted of two parts. The first part ended with the Terminalia on the 23rd. This was considered the end of the religious year, with the last five days forming the second part. To balance out the solar year with the calendar year, they created the Mensis Intercalaris, or leap month. This extra day was added from time to time between the two parts of February.
During the Julian era, February 23rd was doubled with the bis sextum. This term was coined, since February 24th was the sixth day before the Kalands of March (the first day of the calendar year). But later on in history, it made no sense to have two February 23rd’s, so this was solved with sequential numbering in the late middle ages. And that is what brings us to the February 29th that you see today.
For this day today, I will be very honest. I have always been fascinated with February 29th. So much so that I wrote a story about it.
When you look at February 29th, there are often jokes associated with it. Mostly regarding birthdays and aging. I’m sure that you have heard the ridiculous question “How old are they?” Because for them, the 29th only happens every four years, so do they wait until then to celebrate their birthday? If you were born in 1984 on February 29th, congratulations. You just turned eight and can now enter the third grade next year. It is jokes like this that I have a whole lot of fun with.
But when I found a case on the internet that wasn’t a joke, it blew my mind. Nicky Freeman in Australia is in his forties, but he looks like a preteen boy. While Nicky wasn’t born on a leap day (he was born in December), his body does age one year for every four. I found some other cases that were more extreme. The most famous one being Brooke Greenberg, who died at the age of 20 in 2013. She was 30 inches tall, weighed 16 pounds and had the mental age of a 9 to 12 month old. Since then, there’s been a 12 year old the size of an infant, a 3 year old the size of a 9 month old and other similar cases.
All of these cases has been the basis for writing my own story about it. What do these parents have to go through in raising these children? That is the very thing that I want to capture in writing The Tale of Zachary Willowbrook.
The Tale of Zachary Willowbrook is a fictional account about a boy named Zachary, who was born on a leap day. Taking what I have learned about Syndrome X and Nicky Freeman, Zachary, like Nicky, ages one year for every four. Zachary, however, doesn’t display any of the symptoms found in Syndrome X. Zachary grows up to be a healthy boy. His only enemy is his retarded aging.
For the story, I picked a boy, instead of a girl, since pretty much all of the cases on Syndrome X that I found are in girls. For aging, Nicky Freeman was the only male case that I could find.
Getting back to the story, the format is pretty straightforward. It’s a chronological account about the life of Zachary Willowbrook, and the challenges that his parents face in raising him. As one challenge, his parents will die before he graduates college. It is those issues and challenges that I want to explore in writing this story.
So far, I have written one manuscript. I’m on the second manuscript, which is about Zachary’s school days, and the challenges he has in growing up.
There is much more to discuss about this, but that’s about the tip of the iceberg.
Muse: Hi Kyle!
What happened to you? You’re a little girl!
Muse: I’m eight years old! Tee hee…
And what year were you born, miss?
Muse: I was born in 1984!
And what date were you born?
Muse: February 29th! I just turned eight today! Tee hee!
Excuse me, but your birthday is actually August 12th, like mine. We share the same one, the last time that I checked…
Muse: Okay! Fine! It’s August 12th! You’re no fun!
Why are you doing this?
Muse: Well, it’s February 29th and I wanted to have fun with the whole Leap Day thing. Can you let me have fun today? Please?
Can’t you be an adult today?
Muse: Kyle, I am the same age as you. I am an adult in every way that you are. But being your agent of creativity, I am not bound by physical properties like you are. I can change my size, my shape and yes. Even my age. Now are you going to let me be eight today, or are you going to limit my desire to have a little fun with my freedom?
Well, if you’re playing it straight with the whole Leap Day charade, I’ll let you do it. But only under one condition.
Muse: Name it.
That you make your age 7 years and 10 months, instead of 8. In this scenario, you don’t turn eight until August.
Muse: Fine! The only thing that it’s going to change is about half an inch and two pounds. There! Seven years, ten months! Tee hee!
So, what are you going to do on your one day of childhood?
Muse: I’m going to leap! Leap! Leap! Leap! Leap! Leap! Tee hee!
Because it’s Leap Day, right?
Muse: Yup! That’s right! Leap, leap, leap…I’m starting to get sore. I think I’ll stop.
That didn’t take long. What’s next?
Muse: I’m gonna braid my hair! It’s going to be pretty, with sparkles and scrunchies! Bye Kyle!
Bye. I think that she’s having too much fun with this day.
Anyway, between the meaning of this day and the book that I’m working on, I really like this day. The next one is February 29, 2020. Hopefully, I’ll be able to celebrate that one!
But however you celebrate it, or whether you celebrate it at all, enjoy the extra day.
Today’s high is going to be 39 degrees and the silver lining is having the rest of the day off.
To those of you who like having an extra day, I hope that you all have a fantastic day.
Muse: There! A cute and pretty ponytail with lots of sparkles and a scrunchie! Tee hee!
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