The Birthday Party that Never Happened

Sunday, March 22, 2020

#SOL20: March 22nd

          There she was, standing next to me.  Her eyes were filled with tears, but she wasn't saying anything.  My 9 year old daughter was just staring, ready to break down.

          "Bars and restaurants are closed?  I just heard Daddy say that!  That means I'm not having my party."  He did just say that on the phone to a friend.  Clearly, she hears everything.

          Here we go... again.  That was the 3rd party we cancelled, but never actually planned.  She's turning 10 next Tuesday, and has been talking about her birthday for months.  First, she wanted a pool party.  When she announced that back in January, I had heard about the coronavirus, so I waited to book it.  I kept waiting and waiting, and the virus kept spreading and spreading.  I finally told her that the pool wasn't available that day.  The idea of putting kids into a pool just wasn't a risk I wanted to take.

          How about mini golf?  Now that March was here, we had to make a decision.  Mini golf clubs could be wiped down.  How about that?  Then, cases started happening in Chicago.  I had to tell her that I just couldn't book a birthday party right now.  No one would come.  We can wait until the summer, I said.  Your friends won't mind waiting, I said.  She cried and cried.  I was too upset to cry.

          I found out that the frozen yogurt place near us would let us have a small gathering with no big planning involved.  Froyo with just close family?  Perhaps that we could do.  I told her that we could invite just her aunts and cousins for a small gathering.  That made her feel better.  In my mind, I could wipe down the froyo machine handles, bring sanitizer, and we could even eat it outside in their courtyard.  Yet, I sat on the news.  I couldn't bring myself to even making the invitation, because in my heart I knew it wouldn't happen.  

          That day with tears in her eyes, they closed restaurants and bars.  That day, the last ditch effort to make her 10th birthday even a tiny bit of a celebration came tumbling down.  I reassured her that we would still celebrate her birthday, even if it was just the 4 of us.  I didn't tell her that I already have her birthday presents stashed in my closet, just in case the stores close down, too.  Good thing I do, because she wanted to go to the American Girl Store on her actual birthday.  They closed that day, too.

          A few days later, it was confirmed by text.

          Here I am, standing in my kitchen, watching a few robins fly around the yard.  They are free to go wherever they want, totally oblivious to the lockdown the rest of our state is experiencing.  Today is the day that we had set aside for those birthday parties that were never destined to happen.  I poured her a glass of milk, and walked out of the kitchen.  I was afraid that she'd see my eyes filled with tears.  She seems to have no idea that today should have been her party.  Honestly, I wonder if she even knows what day it is.  That's what life is like in lockdown, I guess.  You don't even realize the things you miss when the days blend together.  Perhaps even the big things.

          We have 2 days until she turns 10.  I have a feeling she won't be so oblivious that day.  I hope she someday realizes that on her 10th birthday, she helped save people's lives instead of swimming, mini golfing, or eating froyo.


  1. Aww Leah so sorry! I guess her 10 and 3 months party will have to kick butt! It's hard on us- I can't imagine being a kid. I saw a video where the parents made a pirates of the Caribbean "ride" for their kids- maybe you could do something like that??

  2. I wish I had some words of wisdom, but you've already written them. By staying home to celebrate her birthday, she is saving lives. But, gosh-darn-it, that's nearly impossible to understand when you're ten.
    Good thing you stashed some presents!

  3. My son's birthday was yesterday and we had the same problem - everywhere is closed. I feel for her.

  4. So sad. How does a 10-year-old understand this? We don't. It's heartbreaking to read this and know so many are missing something important, something that was meant to be special. Someday soon she'll have a big party and we'll all appreciate everything so much more. Happy Birthday to your daughter. Hug her close.