What’s it like to be a leapling: David Clay Lawson

David Clay Lawson will technically turn 18 on Feb. 29 though he is actually 72.

David Clay Lawson will celebrate a milestone birthday on Feb, 29 of this year. He will turn 18 and can now legally be considered an adult. Ironically, David has been married 53 years, already has three children, five grandchildren and has retired from one job before starting another.

That’s because David was actually born on Feb. 29 of 1948 and is a rare Leap Day baby, otherwise known as a ‘leapling.’

This series has been extended, as The Review has located two more Leaplings in Hawkins County since the last installment.

A rarity

When you look at it from a statistical point of view, it’s quite a rarity to be born on Leap Day, and it’s even more fascinating that the Review was able to find five in Hawkins County!

All of the leaplings are scattered around the county, with David hailing from the Bulls Gap area.

An article from ThoughtCo.com explained the rarity like this:

“Assuming that birthdays are spread uniformly throughout the year, a leap day birthday on February 29 is the least probable of all birthdays. We start by counting the number of calendar days in a four-year cycle. Three of these years have 365 days in them. The fourth year, a leap year has 366 days. The sum of all of these is 365+365+365+366 = 1461. Only one of these days is a leap day. Therefore, the probability of a leap day birthday is 1/1461. This means that less than 0.07% of the world’s population was born on a leap day.”

Do you celebrate differently on leap year?

“Most of the time we just do something a little special with the family,” David said. “We usually do something at home and invite friends and family. It’s more or less a party, I guess.”

As far as plans for this year, David initially said, “Well, I don’t have much planned for this year—I hadn’t had time to plan much.” However, his wife, Imogene Lawson, chimed in and explained that, unbeknownst to David, she and David’s siblings have been planning a special day for him.

David’s sister was born on Feb. 19, so she, David’s brother, David and Imogene will have a special dinner together.

Though David and his sister have birthdays close together, David explained that, growing up, his parents always made their children’s birthdays individually special.

“She always had hers, and I had mine,” he said.

David also has one brother who enjoys a July birthday.

“He gets to celebrate big-time,” David said with a laugh.

David’s grandchildren always have fun with his unique birthday.

“They always say, ‘Wow, papaw! You have a birthday this year,’’ David’s wife, Imogene said.

Were you due to be born on Leap Day?

So far, none of the Leaplings with whom the Review has spoken were actually due to be born on Leap Day.

For David, he explained that he doesn’t think he was due to be born on Leap Day, but he’s not sure.

“I really don’t know,” he said. “We (he and his mother) never really talked about that.”

What day do you celebrate on?

On non-leap years, David and his family celebrate his birthday on March 1.

Though he explained that his parents never indicated that his birthday was any different than those of his siblings, David said “they always tried to make it special when it was on the 29.”

Have you ever had any problems with official documents?

David explained that, thankfully, he has never run into any problems stemming from his birthday—even when he turned 21.

Advantages and disadvantages?

When asked what it’s like to have such a unique birthday, David explained with a laugh that, he “can’t tell any difference.”

Similarly to the other Leaplings, David explained that people have often joked him about his birthday and his young age.

“People have aggravated me about not being old enough to do things,” he joked. “Especially when I was younger and was just about three or four years old. They’d say, ‘you ain’t old enough to do that.’”

But, he explained that this can also be a good thing, as he explained that his favorite part of his unique birthday is that, “I get to stay young longer.” When he was growing up, though, he said that he didn’t enjoy having to technically wait four years to have a birthday.

When asked if he felt like an 18-year-old, he laughed and said, “no, not hardly. I feel like the right age.”

He went on to add that he has actually never met another Leapling! He was also shocked to find out that the Review had found five within the county.

He said “it really surprised me,” when he found out that the Review was interested in interviewing him.

When he found out that he was the oldest Leapling with whom the Review had spoken, he joked, “Well, I guess I’ll be called grandpa then.”

“If he were really 18, I guess there would be a lot ‘talk’ about us being married,” Imogene added with a laugh. “Thankfully, we’re really the same age. We’re both 71 now, and he will turn 72.”

About David

72-year-old David was born and raised in the same area of Bulls Gap where he currently lives.

He retired as a general contractor, and currently works for the Hawkins Co. Highway Department.

He has also farmed all of his life and currently operates two different farms totaling around 100 acres with cattle and horses.

“I’m still kicking,” he said with a laugh. “If I sit down, I won’t be able to move. I just couldn’t sit at home and do nothing—I had to do something.