ThatMomentKENNEBUNK — Minutes after waking up Monday morning, Duncan Blanchard was running around his father’s house singing “Happy Birthday” to himself – something the 8-year-old hasn’t been able to do for four years.

This year, Duncan was old enough to understand why the day was so special. He knew what his brothers meant when they teased him about turning 2.

Duncan was born on leap day in 2008.

“It doesn’t bother me,” he said about only getting to celebrate his real birthday every four years.

His mother, Ali Maguire, thinks that indifference might change.

Duncan is the youngest of three boys, and the most sensitive.

When it’s not a leap year, his oldest brother Peyton gets to claim the day after Feb. 28 as his own. Peyton turns 11 on Tuesday – March 1.

The family typically celebrates Duncan’s birthday one weekend and Peyton’s the next, so they don’t have to share. Every year, Duncan wants to do the same thing. They go to dinner at Kobe, a hibachi restaurant in Biddeford, where flames shoot up from the grill in front of them and the chef squirts lemonade from a bottle into their mouths until they tell him to stop. Eli, the middle boy, said he can do it the longest and would beat everyone again this year. His younger brother didn’t dispute it.

Duncan is different from the older boys, who are content to watch TV or sit and play video games. He would much rather be outside, preferably riding something with a motor, said his father, Chris Blanchard.

And while Peyton and Eli play football – they’re not named after the sport’s Manning brothers, their mother insists – Duncan has no interest.

He’d like to try soccer this fall, but they still need to see if they can make the schedule work.

Maguire said Duncan is the best athlete of the three boys, in terms of speed and stamina, but staying focused on the game is another matter.

He gets overstimulated easily and, whether it happens in class or at home while playing with his brothers, he needs to remove himself and decompress. His bed at his mom’s house is lofted, so there’s a nook underneath where he can read or play games on his tablet alone.

Duncan Blanchard watches as his grandmother, Rosanne Mapp, left, and mother, Ali Maguire, set up a birthday party for him at Kennebunk Elementary School.

Duncan Blanchard watches as his grandmother, Rosanne Mapp, left, and mother, Ali Maguire, set up a birthday party for him at Kennebunk Elementary School. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer Gregory Rec/ Staff Photographer

When Duncan was in pre-kindergarten, his teacher had a woman observe the class to evaluate him for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Without being told, Maguire said, he knew she was there watching him so he dumped a bucket of Legos over a classmate’s head.

It’s one of many Duncan stories that are often retold, like the time he collected nips, the miniature alcohol bottles, that he found empty in a parking lot and brought them to school in his backpack.

Then there was the Halloween when he was trick-or-treating with his brothers and a woman who answered the door told him he was going to get broccoli instead of candy. His eyes lit up. It’s his favorite food.

“I never know what he’s going to do,” Maguire said.

He told her he had cake with gummy bears for breakfast Monday morning, a claim his father later refuted.

What he did do, before getting on the bus, was dress himself in a plaid button-down shirt, knowing the attention was going to be on him that day.

But when he got to school, his teacher had a custom-made T-shirt waiting for him that his mother had dropped off that morning.

“Feb. 29. Best day ever,” it said. He changed into it right away.

Duncan was due on Leap Day, and his mother hoped he’d be born on time.

“I thought it was the coolest birthday ever,” she said.

Because he weighed 10 pounds by his due date, doctors decided Maguire should be induced. “I was super excited,” she said.

Maguire doesn’t know if Duncan fully realized what being born on Leap Day meant, until this year.

She made packets of facts about it for him and his classmates at Kennebunk Elementary School – one of several treats she planned to bring into his classroom Monday, although the homemade Jell-O cups never made it because of the school’s no-junk-food policy.

After dropping off the T-shirt, Maguire returned to the school with her mother, who was visiting from Massachusetts, and a hollowed-out watermelon filled with fruit salad and decorated to look like a frog for Leap Day.

They also brought juice boxes, pencils and Hawaiian leis. They were setting it all up at a table in his homeroom when Duncan came in from another class.

Duncan Blanchard hugs his grandmother Rosanne Mapp after she brought a frog cut out of a watermelon to his classroom at Kennebunk Elementary School to celebrate Duncan's leap-year birthday. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Duncan Blanchard hugs his grandmother Rosanne Mapp after she brought a frog cut out of a watermelon to his classroom at Kennebunk Elementary School to celebrate Duncan’s leap-year birthday. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

He spotted his grandmother first and ran to give her a hug, then turned toward the watermelon frog and plucked off one of its googly eyes. His mother handed him a red-felt crown that said “King for a Day” and asked him if he wanted to wear it. Duncan shook his head.

Instead, he grabbed the bag of green leis and started hanging them around the necks of his classmates. Maguire put the crown on top of the watermelon.

“Boys and girls, does anyone know what’s so special about today?” asked Patricia Thompson, a substitute teacher for the second-grade class. Hands shot up.

They talked about the meaning of the leap year, then sang “Happy Birthday.”

After Duncan went to get his fruit salad first, his mother and grandmother scooped it onto plates and handed them to the rest of the class.

As the other kids ate from their bouncy-ball seats, Duncan sat down in a rolling chair at the table in the front of the room and turned the watermelon frog so it faced him.

“Nope, you’re not king for a day,” he said, then took off the crown and put it on his own head.