Birthday Blues

Birthday balloons inflated and scattered over hardwood floor

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When Little Things Go AwryBirthday balloons inflated and scattered over hardwood floor

  • What: Birthday Blues
  • When: Celebrating kid birthdays during a pandemic
  • Why: 2020 sucks
  • Where: At home

Kid birthday celebrations during a pandemic call for creative ideas, like a Birthday Balloon Blast, or drive by parades, or any of the other myriad solutions savvy parents have devised in the last seven months. We applaud all these ways to celebrate without risking contagion.

When all else fails, there are presents!

And yet, sometimes you can tell 2020 just sucks. My son recently celebrated his tenth birthday. We’ve been parents for a full decade, which blows my mind. At ten, he grasps the limitations from the pandemic. We’ve been through two other birthdays during this time, so he didn’t have high expectations. He asked to get food from his favorite Mexican restaurant, one that’s not too far away, but not so close we go there regularly (and certainly not anymore).

We eat dinner around 5:30 or 6 most days, and we wanted to have time to have cake and sing with relatives in other more eastern time zones around the country. So I started calling to place our food order at 4:30, which would give me plenty of time to pick it up and get back by 5:30. I had already called to check their hours, (knowing my luck, they’d be one of the places with reduced hours or days thanks to the virus)  so I figured I was all set.

Ten year old boy blowing out birthday candles on mint chocolate chip homemade ice cream cake
Luckily, his made to order cake cheered him right back up,

What I neglected to consider was this is 2020, and nothing will go according to plan. Not only have we had a pandemic and widespread wildfires, but that day we had heavy windstorms. I called 5-7 times in fifteen minutes, and each time the phone rang and rang. No one answered, and it didn’t go to voicemail, so I guessed the phone lines were down. 

I got in the car and drove over there, only to discover the entire area had no power. Sure enough, the restaurant remained open, but they had no electricity, which meant they couldn’t make food. It felt like my child had one very reasonable request, and the universe conspired against even that so it didn’t happen. 

Pikachu and Poke ball balloons tied to chair with child sitting underneath
When in doubt, eat ice cream and get big balloons.

We explained the situation and grabbed Mexican from a closer place. He handled it well (no tears or meltdowns), but complained it wasn’t special, which seems fair. We said we’d go to the restaurant another time, but so far we haven’t made that happen. 

It feels like one more thing that has been stolen from us. Though I know it falls well outside our control as parents, I still have a big heaping pile of mom guilt. I know in a few more weeks this one small thing won’t make a bit of difference, but I hereby request that be the end of this year’s misery. Please?

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