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Samantha Erin Burnett 

Leap Day Baby

click to enlarge SCOTT LARRICK

We were playing Spades around the Burnett kitchen table, tapping our toes to Sam's CD, the Bare Naked Ladies' Stunt, when I found out. She was a Leap Day baby. My very own neighbor -- an actual Leap Day baby, born on Feb. 29, 1988. I'd always wondered if Leap Day babies grew up to be like you and me, seeing as how they only get a birthday once very four years. I looked at Sam's shining face and felt the urge to pluck one of her blond hairs for good luck. This Tuesday she'll be turning 3 -- in leap years, that is.

You're very mature for a 3-year-old. Yes, I am.

Your parents must save a bundle in candles. Yes, they do.

What's it like to be a Leap Day baby? It's fun. Because you're younger when you're really older. And when you're older you can tell people your leap year age and that way you don't have to tell them your real age. ... It's always special on your birthday, but mine's extra special because only one out of every thousand people or so can be a Leap Day baby.

What day do you celebrate on when it's not a Leap Year? Either March 1 or Feb. 28. I usually pick whichever one is on a weekend, if one's on a weekend.

Is the birthday loot a lot better on Leap Years? Yes. Every four years I get kind of like a Christmas. I get more presents because I invite more people to my party.

So how are you going to celebrate this year? I'm going to go bowling with all the girls in my class and my friend Brittany.

Why bowling? Because I like bowling. I like the food, especially the French fries.

Have you ever met another Leap Day baby? Yes, I had a substitute once who was a Leap Day baby. She told us she was 11 but I figured out she was really 47, because it was last year and it was three years from a Leap Year. So I told my classmates her real age.

Do people get that jealous look in their eye when you tell them you're a Leap Day baby? Not really. They just think it's cool.

Do you see them scratching their heads, trying to work out the math? Some of 'em get really confused. I'll say I'm 2 (or 3 lately) and they'll say, "No. What's your real age?" ... The weirdest was when Lance [a mutual neighbor] didn't know there was a leap year; he didn't really understand it at all. He said, "No, you're lying." I had to get out a calendar.

There's a rumor that Superman was a Leap Day baby because he always appeared so young. Can you leap tall buildings in a single bound, too? No, I can't. As a matter of fact, I can't jump very high, but I like to jump. Actually I like to bounce. My mom always said I have springs in my feet 'cause I bounce around a lot.

When you were little, what did your parents tell you? I don't remember. But I do know that I didn't understand it until I was like four or five. But when I was four I was turning 1 [in leap years] so I probably understood it then.

Most people can't remember their first birthday, but you can. Yeah!

  • Meet Sam, my neighbor and a real life Leap Day baby.

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