Nine-year-old mother of four will be turning 10 today, February 29

Allison Tolleson of Caledonia, is now the same age as her 10-year-old son Calloway. She turned 10 (actually 40) this Wednesday, Feb. 29. Photo by Charlie Warner

By Charlie Warner
Argus News Editor

Allison Tolleson of Caledonia will be turning 10 years old this Wednesday. She has been married to Jay Tolleson for 15 years. The couple has four children, the oldest 10 and the youngest two.

“People do look at me kind of funny when I tell them my wife still hasn’t turned 10 yet,” said Jay, who teaches history and social studies at Caledonia Area High School. “When they find out that Allison’s birthday is on Feb. 29, they usually figure it out.”

Yes, Allison Tolleson is one of the lucky, or unlucky persons, (depending on how you look at it) who was born on Feb. 29. Being a “leap year baby,” she officially celebrates her birthday every four years, although she has opted to blow out the candles on her birthday cake on Feb. 28 during the three “off years.”

“I guess you’re never shy about your age when you have a leap year birthday,” Allison said last week. “I guess I’ve been putting up with this all my life. When you get to be a certain age, birthdays become just another day. Although when you officially have one every four years, I guess it’s a little more special.”

Allison said she celebrated her first four “official” birthdays while living in four different states. Her family was living in Michigan when she turned four, in Indiana when she turned eight, in Illinois when she turned 12 and in Winona when she turned 16, or would that be four?

“Sometimes when people ask me when my birthday is and I tell them Feb. 29, they look at me kind of funny and wonder if I misspoke,”  Allison said. “But then it sinks in and they realize I was born on leap day.”

Having Feb. 29 for your birthday can be troublesome at times, Allison pointed out. Some computer systems don’t recognize Feb. 29. She recalled when visiting in Texas, she signed up for a certain promotional flyer at a store. When asked her birth date, Allison replied “Feb. 29.” But the computer refused to accept that date.

It does have its advantages as well. She was a college student when she turned 21. Like many college students, she celebrated her 21st birthday at one of the local pubs. And because some leap year babies observe their birthdays on Feb. 28 and some on March 1, Allison was able to take advantage of a few more “birthday drinks.”

One drawback to being a leap year baby is the fact that one has to reach the ripe old age of 116 years before you can celebrate your “golden birthday.” (Do the math, it does work out.)

Allison isn’t the only person in the Tolleson family with a unique birthday. Calloway was born on 9-11-2001, Gunnar was born on the winter solstices, Dec. 21, Maverick was born on Ground Hog’s Day and Sterling was born exactly one year before the devastating floods of August 2007.

Besides being able to joke that he has a “child bride,” Jay said having Allison’s birthday land on Feb. 29 saves him some money. “I only have to buy her birthday presents every four years,” he said with a laugh.

And what will the Tollesons be doing when Feb. 29 rolls around and Allison will be celebrating her 40th, I mean 10th birthday?

“I’m going to take our daughter Sterling to the circus on Tuesday (Feb. 28) and I really don’t know if Jay has anything special planned for Wednesday,” Allison noted.

All her husband would do is give her a wry smile and a shrug.