“Well guys, I gotta go. My family is having dinner now. Thanks for coming to my zoom party.” My daughter’s voice sounded flat. Closing the laptop she turned to face me. “Dad, I don’t know how to make a zoom party fun,” she quipped.
“Honey,” I said, “you tried your best.” I could sense her disappointment. Even though we had known for weeks that a traditional birthday party was out of the question due to COVID-19, the reality of turning eleven without experiencing the physical presence of friends had begun to set in. I thought for a moment about the many kids who likely felt the pangs of this let-down.
Time to pivot, I thought to myself.
“How about opening presents?” I offered. Immediately, my daughter’s face brightened. As is our normal birthday routine, we had been planning to wait until after dinner to open gifts, but the time seemed right. The next hour brought much excitement, as my daughter tore open cards and presents from her west coast extended family and her east coast immediate family. Her favorite dinner – tacos! – was then served, followed by mom’s home-baked six-minute chocolate cake and two types of ice cream. All five of us then piled into blankets and pillows in the living room to watch a movie, compliments of our new Disney Plus subscription.
Before heading upstairs to bed, my daughter hugged me. “This was the best birthday ever,” she said. I watched her as she headed up the stairs, savoring the moment. And suddenly, the rainy Monday night of her birth popped into my head. How could that have been eleven years ago? I wondered to myself. Even in quarantine, time continues to fly. Switching off the lights, I headed upstairs to tuck my girls into bed.