Last Tuesday, on April 21, Massachusetts Gov. Baker announced that all schools in Massachusetts would be closed for the rest of the year, meaning that my birthday, on June 10th, will officially be a COVID-19/quarantine birthday.
Millions of children around the world have had their birthdays suddenly upended by the coronavirus. Days when kids usually get together with friends or family for a birthday party, go on a trip, or have cupcakes at school, have been changed to days where kids pretty much have to stay at home.
This is really, truly sad. Although I am in middle school now, I remember the days back in elementary school when it was such a big deal to bring in cupcakes for your class. Everyone would hurry to get in a line before recess and pick out which cupcake you wanted. Then, you would go outside and strut around with your cupcake, feeling lucky that someone in your class had a birthday, and, if it was your birthday, feeling happy to be special at school for a day.
Having a birthday party with friends and family is always special, too. When people you care about are there just for you, you feel particularly happy.
My birthday is in over a month, but still, some things have definitely changed. Because I won’t have school, no one will put a sign in my locker, and I won’t get to go to Boston on a field trip that feels like a birthday trip, because it was coincidentally scheduled for a day near my birthday.
Most likely, none of my friends and family will come over, and my cousins won’t play in my backyard and take out all of our backyard games and spread them out all over the place. I probably won’t get to go strawberry picking with my mom, which is a kind of tradition for us.
So, what are kids doing on their special days that suddenly don’t feel so special? The answer: many, many things. Just the other day, I was out walking and passed a sign saying “Honk for [name I don’t remember]’s 18th birthday!” People are doing car-parades, as well, where people drive past the birthday kid’s house to wish them well.
So far, two of my cousins have had quarantine birthdays. They both had Zoom calls with family and friends and we all sang “Happy birthday.” One more of my cousins will have a quarantine birthday in about a month, and I wonder what she has planned.
There is no doubt that COVID-19 and quarantine have messed up a lot of people’s special days. But we are all in this together. It is our natural instinct to try and make the best out of things, and that is what people are doing. I have no idea what the world will look like on my birthday, but I know that I can still make it a happy day.
I, and millions of kids around the world, can do car parades, Zoom calls, and many more creative things to make our special days more special and unique than ever before.
Anya Geist, 13