You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘parenting’ category.

Tonight I spent a couple hours driving around Northern Virginia—probably more time in the car than the past five weeks combined—because my daughter is incredibly thoughtful.

A few weeks ago Zoe decided to make coronavirus care packages for a few friends. She gathered some little surprises and we bought candy. She made each friend a necklace and I picked up a few treasures on my Target runs. Today she might chocolate chip cookies and we were ready to deliver.

Her friends were so surprised and delighted. At our last stop, the whole family came out to say hello and thank you. For a few minutes, Zoe and her friend and her friend’s brother were running around the yard laughing, so excited to see each other. Their parents invited us to come back on the weekend and sit in the driveway.

I know it was hard for Zoe not to hug her friends when she delivered their packages. It feels so weird to see someone you love and stop short.

Earlier in our outing we stopped by the home of another thoughtful person who I know from high school who is sewing dozens (hundreds?) of masks for whoever needs them. In return she is accepting donations of food or funds for the food pantry at her church where she volunteers. I dropped off a bag of beans and pasta and reusable tote bags at her house and she handed over several beautiful masks. We delivered some to my sister, gave one to a friend, and will bring some to my parents this week. This mask maker is still working her full-time government job (from home) and sewing at night and on the weekends.

I am super proud of Zoe for spending so much time and energy thinking about exactly what would bring joy to her friends. I know my Nana would be proud and my parents will be proud too. We have learned from our parents to always be generous and share and do what you can to spread joy. I know my kids have learned this too. This is what I love about my family.

While I was waiting for my prescription at the Giant pharmacy, “A Time to Remember” by Billy Joel came on the store speakers. I love Billy Joel–An Innocent Man was the first record album I bought in 4th grade and and my first rock concert in 10th grade was the Storm Front tour–but I do not like that song. It’s schmaltzy and, in my opinion, below Billy Joel’s standards. It occurred to me that no one was curating the grocery store playlist for pandemic-appropriate music. I was acutely aware of the inaccuracy of “This is the time to remember/Cause it will not last forever/These are the days/To hold on to/Cause we won’t/Although we’ll want to.” I am pretty sure we will never forget this time, whether or not we want to. And I hope it doesn’t last forever but right now it sure feels like it will. I laughed into my mask when he got to: “Sometimes it’s so easy/To let a day/Slip on by/Without even seeing each other at all” since those are all the days now, unless you count seeing each other on a screen, which will never ever be the same.


I don’t fully remember why I didn’t write the last couple nights, although Wednesday night I know I was up until 2am folding approximately 4,000 loads of laundry while I watched 2 ½ episodes of AJ and the Queen on Netflix. AJ and the Queen stars RuPaul as Robert/Ruby Red, a drag queen who is scammed out of his life savings (which he planned to use to open up a drag club called Queens in Queens) by a con artist pretending to be his boyfriend. A kid in Robert’s apartment building asks him for money because he’s been abandoned by his mom, who is a prostitute and drug addict. Robert’s best friend is another drag queen who also happens to be blond, but hasn’t lost his ability to do excellent hair and makeup. I am intrigued by drag culture (I recently watched Dumplin‘, the film adaptation of Julie Murphy’s book by the same name, which also included some spectacular drag queens) and RuPaul is a good actor. This is exactly the kind of show you should be watching when you’re up at 2am.


Another night or two, Randy and I were taking turns getting Zeke back to bed because he was popping up every 20 to 30 minutes after we thought he was asleep. Apparently it is normal for kids to regress during a traumatic period. According to experts, what we need to do is give our kids more attention. How this is possible during a period that is also traumatic for parents and features increased demands from every direction, I do not know. I’ve asked Zeke to make lists of what he wants to do the past couple days. This was one of them.

Space Taxi is a book Zeke and I have been reading together

Today’s list was similar, although it included “ride bike” repeated several times. Unfortunately we weren’t able to fit the bike ride in until 7pm because I had to get Zeke a new helmet, as his previous helmet was too small. This morning we ordered one from Target to be picked up today. It was ready to retrieve around 4pm, but of course I had to buy 1,000 other items at Target, and then go to Giant to get prescriptions (see above) and by the time I got home and stripped off my contaminated clothes and mask and wolfed down some cream cheese wontons I bought from the frozen food aisle in Target on impulse, it was 7pm. We did make it out for a quick ride before dark, however, and I enjoyed the unexpected bonus of seeing a friend who was out walking her puppy near where Zeke was riding. We talked for a few minutes, from easily 12 feet away–we were super safe–although the puppy was not practicing social distancing so I got to sneak in a few puppy snuggles.

Happily, Zeke has now joined the ranks of bicyclists. He rode lap after lap around the track where we went to practice. He is still a little wobbly sometimes on starts and stops, but who isn’t sometimes? He announced today that he thinks we will be able to go on family bike rides after his birthday, which is just a few weeks away. I think by then Zoe will have fully healed from her bike injuries, and we’ll be good to go.

I keep hearing fragments of news items like social distancing will continue for two more years and we’re heading into another Great Depression and we won’t be allowed to shake hands or hug people in the future. As the saying goes, I can’t even.

I actively avoid watching or listening to the President speak because most of what he says is false, damaging, and hateful. But I hear plenty of commentary on social media and it all makes me sick. I can’t even count the number of times during this administration that I thought, “this behavior is disgusting/appalling/illegal/shocking/impeachable/fill in word or expression of your choice here. Surely our country will not let this stand.” And then nothing happens. I remember when Trump was authorizing the government to steal immigrant children from their parents and put these children in cages and mistreat them and I thought, “how can this get any worse? This is the lowest of the low.” Clearly a failure of my imagination to make the leap to pandemic in which hundreds of thousands of lives are at stake because Trump doesn’t want to look bad and doesn’t want the economy he benefits from to suffer.

Please don’t tell me to limit my media consumption, because right now it’s already at a minimum, but it’s essential to me to stay connected to people I care about and to see cute videos of babies hugging and everyone’s new puppy. I can’t bear to isolate myself any more than I already am.

The return to homeschool today went ok. Midmorning I texted Zeke’s kindergarten teacher (even though he’s in first grade now) to ask her to 1) give Zeke a pep talk and 2) help me with strategies to get him past his refusal to write. She was, as always, extremely kind and enthusiastic and helpful. We’ll see whether Zeke decides to cooperate tomorrow. I offered the incentive of an extra 30 minutes of screen time if he does his writing work with a good attitude. I also realized that he’s really good at finding effective ways to communicate and record things without writing. He’s making a Kahoot for his birthday, which we did for Zoe as well. A Kahoot is an online quiz you can create about anything, and then invite people to take it. He asked for help coming up with some of the questions, but instead of trying to write them out, he used the dictation feature to speak the questions aloud, then went back to edit them by hand if there were any mistakes. He did this with near 100% accuracy (not including punctuation or capitalization, which are not super important in an online quiz). Also he added images to the quiz from both my photo gallery and the Getty images gallery included in Kahoot, which I didn’t even know existed. He basically did the whole thing himself, with minimal assistance. He and Zoe both use voice recognition or Siri to find things online that they want to watch, or look up information. And it doesn’t always work–which is usually funny–but often it does and they never had to write anything at all. Maybe I’m worrying too much about this. It’s not that Zeke needs to be writing pages filled with beautiful prose. I just don’t want him to freak out when asked to write a word or a sentence. Teachers have a lot more patience than I do, as well as that whole degree in education thing. I’m looking forward to second grade.

My Dad ventured out for 6am senior hour this morning at Harris Teeter to get supplies. Despite the tornado watch, he and my mom bravely delivered a fabulous early birthday present to me this afternoon: toilet paper and paper towels! Also 10 bell peppers (one of the only vegetables my entire family will eat) and some guac. Also a couple bottles from their personal stash of Martinelli’s sparkling cider. My sister and I used to make fun of our parents for their tendency to stockpile food and other items. But no more. They have enough Raisin Bran crunch on hand to last through several quarantines.

My mom asked me this morning what I wanted for my birthday and my only answer was an end to coronavirus. I forgot momentarily about toilet paper, but that is a close second.

I spent 30 minutes on the floor playing Legos with Zeke today. And we read a chapter and a half of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at bedtime. As a family, we also made yet another new schedule to try tomorrow. This schedule involves significantly more school-ish work and significantly less tv and Xbox time than has been happening recently. It was spring break, but tomorrow it’s not, and knowing this is going on for the rest of the school year means we have to lay down some rules. I know, I know, we’ve tried this before and it didn’t work. But we have to keep trying in order to maintain our (my) sanity. Maybe if I provide more structure for Zeke he will feel safer and calmer? Or not? We shall see.

Zoe and I are observing the amazing regenerative power of skin. Her injuries already look much better than they did last night, although the overall soreness has definitely kicked in. I ordered more first aid supplies online today and organized the inventory we have on hand. I feel more confident dressing the wounds and Zoe is less shaky. She’s been an extremely polite and grateful patient. I am a grateful parent that she didn’t break anything, and that Zeke said he still wants to practice on his bike. I was afraid after seeing his sister’s injuries he would be scared off. I am reminded that sometimes I just need to give him space to process.

Meanwhile, he is still producing art at an impressive pace. I am eager to see what he comes up with on his own once he has mastered all these drawing tutorials and books. I am trying not to push him because I know that tends to end badly.

The dog from Coco
Anger from Inside Out
A hedgehog

Someday we will publish a book of his quarantine art. Until then I will tend to his quarantine heart.

Zoe and I stayed standing in the waiting room of Patient First tonight, wearing our homemade masks and trying not to touch anything. I sanitized my hands seven times while we were there. The receptionist, nurse, radiologist, and doctor were all wearing masks and safety glasses. It makes you feel a little like you’re interacting with robots or droids. Although the doctor had a stutter, which made him more recognizably human.

We went to urgent care at the recommendation of an unknown doctor with whom Zoe had a free telemedicine appointment tonight, courtesy of our new insurance plan and COVID-19, who suggested an X-ray of Zoe’s thumb and wrist to rule out a fracture. This was a couple hours after Zoe wiped out on her bike. I was taking a nap when Randy called to ask me to come pick Zoe up because she had fallen and hurt herself. I didn’t realize what a mess she was until we got home and I was tending to her wounds in the bathroom and wishing our bathroom was cleaner. I asked Siri to play Taylor Swift and asked Zoe to take deep breaths with me as she was on the verge of hyperventilating. I helped her wash off the scrapes, on her elbow, hands, knee, and hip, sprayed them with hydrogen peroxide, and bandaged to the best of my ability. Randy was my assistant, handing me bandages and medical tape. Turns out we had very little tape on hand, although I think some of it was leftover from when Zeke had surgery as an infant. We threw that one away. I realized I need to freshen up our first aid supplies.

So after Zoe was settled downstairs on the couch, I donned a mask and headed to CVS. I bought a wide variety of sprays, ointments, bandages, and tape because I always overbuy, but especially when I’m anxious. And I bought lemonade and seltzer and some extra Easter candy as a treat, as well as a couple bags of Bugles. Don’t judge.

I came home to the news that Zoe needed to get an x-ray, so I washed my hands 50 more times and helped her change clothes and used the new supplies to re-bandage all her wounds. Then we headed out.

Now we’re safely home and Zoe is feeling much better. Thankfully nothing is broken. The nurse at urgent care carefully removed all the bandages and cleaned everything again and reapplied medicine and put fresh bandages on. She wrapped an ace bandage around Zoe’s hurt hand and wrist.


It’s almost 2am and I’ve just returned from an eerie drive around Arlington in the rain trying to find Zoe a toothbrush because hers had somehow become contaminated and surprisingly we had no extra toothbrushes anywhere in our house. I had to go to four stores until I found one that was open, which ended up being a 7-11. Between Easter Sunday hours and coronavirus hours, everything is closed. And there was no one on the road. I have driven around late at night on my fair share of occasions and there is always at least a little traffic. I think I saw four other cars driving in my 30-minute odyssey.

Our house is a gigantic mess. The dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer are all running right now but there are still dishes filling the sink and piled up on the counter. There are boxes and cans of food piled up on another counter because I didn’t feel like it was safe to put them away yet. There is dirty laundry on the floor by the washing machine and clean laundry piled on the loveseat. There is crap everywhere. I’m wondering where I will get the energy to clean it up. And I do NOT have high standards, but I do need clean clothes to wear and glasses to drink from. I have changed clothes several times today–every time I went outside and came back in. And I have to wash all the masks that all of us wore today. I wore several myself. And regardless of how many times I washed my hands I still feel like those red spiked molecules are lurking.


Zeke is having a rough time. Both of my children have always been unusually emotionally self-aware, but I forget sometimes that he’s not even 7 (at least for a couple more weeks). He has not been acting like himself, and of course I understand why but I’m not sure what to do about it. I know I need to spend more time with him but I’m struggling to figure out what to do with that time that will be helpful to him, and how to avoid getting distracted. I keep thinking he will ask for something if he needs it, but that doesn’t seem to be the case, and I know I can’t expect him to be self-sufficient even when he acts like it.

Last night we had a Zoom Passover Seder and Zeke refused to participate. He wouldn’t even appear on camera. The only thing he was willing to do was nibble matzoh and then find the afikomen. Literally five minutes before the Seder he and his cousin Charlie FaceTimed to practice the four questions and decide who was going to read which questions. But when the time came, Zeke wanted no part of it. I understand on one level that all this behavior is in direct response to the crisis we’re living through, but I am not sure how to help Zeke deal with it.


This morning we watched the UUCA Easter Sunday service on YouTube. It was a moving service with thoughtful and apt reflections about how the times we’re living in are changing us, and how growth can require darkness and patience. Rev. Terasa brought her metaphor to life by making sourdough bread during her sermon. I guess that’s something that video preaching from home enables you to do. In the end, I really wanted some fresh bread. And I really missed my church people. And I stumbled back into the darkness. I saw all these Facebook posts of friends whose families dressed up for Easter even though they weren’t going to church, and took beautiful pictures and hid and found eggs. We didn’t even get around to dyeing eggs. We didn’t have a special meal. I ate a bowl of cereal while I watched church at 10am and then Zoe and I ate macaroni and cheese and peas when we got home from urgent care at 10pm. Today did not speak to me of new beginnings.


To be fair I should acknowledge that yesterday was a better day. Zoe and I went on a four-mile bike ride, which was the most I’ve ridden my bike in years. The weather was beautiful. We passed several people we know while we were out. And as we pedaled past a field, we saw a little girl taking some of her first steps to her dad while her mom took pictures. We cheered for her. I am pretty sure some other good things happened yesterday too, but honestly I don’t even remember. The days are so long now and they bleed into the nights where sometimes we sleep and sometimes we don’t.

I just found out that a friend’s mom died today from coronavirus. The friend is someone I met when Zoe and her son were in preschool together, and I haven’t seen her in a while, but I met her mom and I know how close they were. And this reminds me that it could easily have been my mom.

Three other people I know have lost loved ones to COVID-19 so far, but of course there will be more.

Randy remarked earlier that it’s like a slow-motion September 11. But on such a massively larger scale. I remember after September 11 when I was at work and I would often have to make calls to people I didn’t know and the first thing anyone would say to each other was, “Did you know anyone…” and if you were calling someone in New York, “Where were you? Did you see it happen?” But this thing just goes on and on and you can’t be horrified all the time but you can’t pretend it isn’t happening either.


I’ve read a lot of articles lately advising people not to try to be particularly productive during the quarantine or undertake a new project or create something new. I think these cautions are a backlash against overzealous memes that appeared when everything started to close down, like calculus was invented during the plague or some composer wrote his greatest symphony while people were dying from the flu. No pressure or anything.

Unquestionably I agree that we shouldn’t feel required to achieve greatness just because we’re stuck inside for the foreseeable future. But I also see the value in trying to do something–anything–to shake loose from the constantly looming specter of despair.

So today I woke up at a reasonable hour, conducted a zoom meeting with family about our upcoming virtual Passover seder (we are very flexible in our observation of Jewish traditions), and did a session of EvolveAll bootcamp on the living room rug. I was amazed by how much I could sweat in 12 minutes. Boot camp at EvolveAll is led by Soup (the man, not the food) and it is intense. In real life, I have never participated, but I have watched hundreds of classes while my kids were in their martial arts classes. I am almost always working while my kids are in class, and I can’t help but see the boot campers out of the corner of my eye. Several of them are friends. Many are parents of the kids in my kids’ classes. Soup and some of the students have invited me to join them, but I never have. Under ordinary circumstances I would rather exercise outside–playing soccer or hiking or doing something fun with people that doesn’t just seem like work. But I need not remind you that these are not ordinary circumstances.

Today while I was doing the workout, Zeke was sitting at the edge of the rug playing with legos. He frequently said, “Good job!” when I finished a particular exercise. After I was done he came over to hug me. “I’m super sweaty!” I said. He said he didn’t care, and he was proud of me.

At the beginning of the quarantine, nearly a month ago, Randy and Zoe and I joked about doing push-ups and sit-ups every day. Randy and Zoe did a bunch early on and Randy bruised a rib or pulled something in his chest. I was worried at first that it was coronavirus but he confirmed it was just a muscle. I kept thinking about movies and tv shows in which someone is in prison or a holding cell or quarantined because of contact with aliens. They’re always doing push-ups and sit-ups while they’re isolated in their rooms. Some strange logic in my brain kept telling me that if I started doing push-ups and sit-ups every day then I would be acknowledging that we were imprisoned. I understand this is not literally true. I’ve tried to reframe that desperation into a way of asserting control. Usually when I feel like everything is out of control I do something easy that I can control, like cleaning my desk or organizing a cabinet or some similar small task that isn’t really important but gives you some sense of satisfaction afterward. In quasi-quarantine I am doing plenty of dishes and laundry (as are Randy and Zoe) but they provide minimal satisfaction. So I succumbed to the push-ups. Zoe had accomplished Master Emerson’s advanced push-up challenge, but I told her if we started there I would probably not finish and that would be the end of that. So we started small, with 25. The next day, 25 again. Tonight it’s 30 although I already did 20 as part of the boot camp workout. We haven’t added in the sit-ups yet. Despite the fact that Zoe is a black belt in martial arts and a fast runner and now a cyclist, she is concerned that she doesn’t have visible muscles. She wants defined biceps and visible abs. I just want strength and endurance. I am strong–I think a lot stronger than people would look at me and guess. I am not fast and I am not fit. But I’ll take strength and I’ll work on endurance. Mostly, though, if doing a workout gets me off the computer and out of my anxiety spiral for a while, I’ll take it.

I skipped writing yesterday. I am trying not to feel guilty about this on top of all the other things I’m inclined to feel guilty about because I don’t really believe in feeling guilty about things if they don’t involve harming others. Of course, there are things that I’m doing (or not doing) that others might feel harmed by. But I’m not responsible for other people’s feelings, right?

This week has been rough. I think it feels especially painful because it was supposed to be spring break. Technically it is spring break–there’s no expectation of online classes or distance learning or homeschooling–but otherwise our day-to-day existence is no different than it has been for the past several weeks since the quarantine began. I still have to work, and I’m not doing a great job of it because I can’t concentrate and it’s just awkward to have work meetings on my bed. I feel like I’ve been neglecting my kids, especially Zeke, but I can’t pull myself together enough to get all the things done and carve out the time I want to play with him. I have the sensation of sinking slowly into the abyss. Sometimes I am able to crawl out and take a shower.

Being trapped in the house during vacation is disappointing but also confusing and ominous. Nothing is normal or as it should be. I should have the week off. We should be having fun. I don’t want anyone else to tell me how we can have fun at home. I don’t want anymore input or ideas. I just want relief. If spring break is cancelled, what does that mean for summer? I feel like the unreality and unpredictability of this situation is wearing away at my soul.

Randy suggested getting takeout tonight in part because we are running low on food and in part because he wanted to get out of the house. Zeke was so excited to go with him. On the way to the restaurant they stopped at a friend’s house to pick up masks that her mother had made and she was sharing with us. These masks are the opposite of cold and clinical. They are adorable. And freaky. There is something unsettling about wearing something over your face that has been lovingly sewn with cute fabrics to prevent yourself from catching or transmitting a deadly virus. I kind of dread wearing one when I go out because I will be reminded every second of this frightening world we are living in right now.

Adding to my anxiety is that the climax of a monumental project I’ve been working on for the past 22 months is coming in the next 48 hours. I have spent thousands of hours and expended enormous emotional energy as a (volunteer) member of the ministerial search committee for UUCA–more time and effort than I ever could have imagined, despite the fact that the nominating committee warned us it was a “big commitment.” On Friday we will announce our candidate to the congregation. Then in a few weeks we will hold approximately a million virtual opportunities for people to “meet” the candidate and vote on whether to officially call the candidate as our next senior minister. I’m sure there are ways to make this situation more complicated but I don’t want to explore those right now.

One of the revelations of this quarantine business is demonstrating how people respond to other people’s thoughts, feelings, and problems. There are a lot of solvers out there. Sometimes you want someone to give you suggestions or solutions. But most of the time, I’ve learned through both personal and professional experience, people just want to be heard. Right now, especially, I think most people just want to be heard. When I post or text when things are hard, I usually just want to know that someone else gets it, that they’ve been there, that they feel the same way or understand what I’m saying. So thank you, empathizers and affirmers of the world. I appreciate you.

When you are stuck in the middle of chaos and confusion and you feel like it’s impossible to be your best self or do the right things, it’s easy to slide swiftly in the other direction–facing your worst self, feeling greasy and smelly and unable to get out of bed. I know it’s not completely bleak. There are moments of relief and glimpses of grace. Then they seem to disappear again and you’re awake at 2am wondering how to make the next day better.

The ideal person to be quarantined with would be my Nana. She was born in 1911, grew up on a farm, survived the Great Depression, and was smart, industrious, patient, thrifty, and a phenomenal baker and cook. My Nana always had two refrigerators and freezers filled with food enough to last forever. She washed clothes in the sink and sometimes in the washing machine, and dried everything on the line. She washed and dried the dishes by hand. Somehow I feel like she wouldn’t have run out of anything or would’ve known how to make what she had on hand last and last. She never learned to drive and would’ve been content to stay at home taking care of her family, reading her devotions, sewing, and playing Scrabble as long as was necessary. She might’ve been sad that Major League Baseball was canceled because she enjoyed watching the Atlanta Braves play. She would’ve missed going to church every Sunday, but she wouldn’t have skipped a single day reading the Bible. She would’ve called to check on the women in her Sunday school class and people from the church who were homebound (of course we’re all homebound now, but the people who were sick or incapacitated). She would’ve made meals and pound cakes and asked my Papa to drive her to deliver them. I am confident that Nana would have remained calm during all this craziness.

Perhaps because I’ve been thinking about my Nana so much lately, I had two terrible dreams last night in which she had just died. In one dream, I was in the house on Chestnut Street in High Point, North Carolina where she and my Papa lived for most of my childhood. I dreamed that she had died and the entire rest of my family had suddenly vanished. I had no one there to talk to or who could console me, except for an acquaintance I didn’t really trust.

In the next dream, I was in another city–maybe Arlington or DC at night and I was hysterical about her death. I was parked very tight between other cars and was trying to figure out how to get my car out of the lot. My friend Elizabeth appeared, along with a guy who sported an unfortunate Prince Valiant style haircut. Elizabeth asked if I could give her and Prince Valiant a ride somewhere because it was raining. I said I would, but then I was driving up absurdly steep walls, like in a skate park, and I couldn’t seem to get anywhere. I was crying and told Elizabeth I couldn’t drive because I was so upset and she would have to drive, so she did.

When I told Randy about this he suggested the steep walls I was trying to drive up represented the nightmarish graphs we keep seeing in the news, of the rise of coronavirus cases and deaths, and the unbelievable unemployment numbers.

My Nana died in 2005. I wonder if I am suddenly missing her more than usual because in all this terrifying uncertainty, I am longing for her steady, reassuring presence. She would know the right thing to do. I wish she were here so she could meet my kids. And so I could bake her a cake. I think she would like that.

When my kids were in preschool at AUCP one of the concepts that the teachers and staff there reminded us parents all the time was the importance of teaching and allowing our kids to do things on their own even when it would be much faster for us to do it ourselves. If you are a parent or grandparent or older sibling or if you’ve ever cared for or taught a child, you know that it often takes little kids forever to do anything, especially if you are in a hurry.

Of course this is good advice because kids will never learn to be independent if you do everything for them. But also, life. Sometimes it’s really tedious to teach a kid to do something that you could do in five minutes, knowing you’ll have to cajole them to do it and then it will take them half an hour.

Yet there comes a time–perhaps when you are in quarantine–when you are making three meals a day for your family members, that you must teach your first-grader to make a sandwich. For whatever reason, Zeke has never liked peanut butter and jelly. Recently he has changed his mind. He seems to change his mind about a lot of things lately. So I taught him to make a sandwich. He was proud of himself. He added pretzels to the plate. I cut up the apple. I’m wondering when I can give him the sharp knife…

As you can see, some of the strawberries adorning the edge of the cake cascaded down to the bottom between when I decorated the cake and when we served it. The cake was strawberry with fresh strawberries mixed in and a layer of strawberry jam between the layers of cake. The cake plate originally belonged to my Nana.

I know she would never have chosen it herself, but I actually think Zoe’s 13th birthday while in quarantine was more eventful and filled with love from more people than it would’ve been under ordinary circumstances.

I had put a call out on Facebook for people to send video birthday greetings to Zoe, and my wishes were granted. Beginning this morning I air-played the videos for Zoe on our TV and enjoyed seeing her smile. Some of the videos were from friends, some from teachers, some from people she doesn’t even know but who know her through the magic of Facebook. Some of them were from dogs and cats and plastic birds. One video made me cry and another made me laugh so hard I peed.

Last night we made a Kahoot–an online quiz using an app that Zoe has used in school for years–about Zoe. Today we invited family and a few groups of friends to play during Zoom birthday calls. Our first call was with the McCrays, who all sported birthday hats and had put up a happy birthday banner and balloons for Zoe. Later, the Cass family brought their adorable new puppy, Bentley, to visit us. They stayed six feet away while Bentley nibbled bits of turkey out of our hands. Then my parents drove up with some birthday gifts for Zoe, which they handed through the car window. I had just made pasta salad for lunch and I hurried to package some up for them (along with the baby carrots and tortilla chips we always serve with the pasta salad) and passed their bag of lunch back through the car window before they drove off.

Zoe and I played speed, her favorite card game, at which I am usually terrible, and I beat her. I told her now that she was a woman I wasn’t holding back anymore. Which is nonsense, because I never held back before I just wasn’t good at the game and it was lucky that I won today. Then the four of us played Not Parent Approved and ate pasta salad.

Next we had our family celebration, during which Aunt Susannah aced the Zoe quiz, and our littlest family member Sam did a little birthday dance for Zoe. Susannah and Aaron and Charlie and Sam made the best birthday video ever–their rendition of Taylor Swift’s “Me,” which featured Susannah in a bridesmaid dress and Charlie popping out of unexpected places including the fridge. Also Sam doing baby pushups.

Eager to get back on her bike, Zoe asked me to take her back to the field where she and Zeke rode Friday and Saturday. The field just so happens to be located near her best friend’s house. After riding a few laps around the track, Zoe was suddenly serenaded (from a safe distance) by a vaguely familiar group including a unicorn, Wolverine, a poop emoji, a hot dog, a windsock guy, and a Slytherin. Strangers stopped to take photos and videos.

Back home Zoe got back on Zoom with her squad from school, a happy reunion that lasted more than two hours, until our delivery arrived from Bangkok54. While we ate we watched the Taylor Swift documentary Miss Americana, which Zoe had already watched five times, but it was my first. The movie was excellent and gave me a newfound respect for Taylor.

Of course Zoe received some presents, and some will be arriving in the mail pending coronavirus delays. But the best thing about this birthday was her just hearing from people in Arlington and all over the country that they are thinking of her and wishing good things for her and sending her love. And now that she’s 13 I think she understands how much that matters.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 1,183 other followers

Follow You Ask a Lot of Questions on WordPress.com

Listen to my podcast: Five Questions with Betsy Rosenblatt Rosso

http://betsyrosso.podbean.com
%d bloggers like this: