The epidemic of Coronavirus has been at the centerstage of world news for weeks now and by the look the of things, will dominate most newsfeed and conversations for several more weeks. As most governments take precautions to contain the spread at a larger level, smaller institutions and individuals too have been making efforts towards the same cause. One such effort from our side was to cancel my child’s 7th birthday party.
The child’s birthday is one of the biggest annual events for every parent. Most of us pull all stops to make the day as memorable as possible for the child – favorite food, new clothes, friends over for a party and lots of gifts. Even for me, my daughter’s birthday is almost a month-long project starting from choosing a theme, guests list, menu, décor, games and then the actual party. The excitement in the last few years has been significantly higher with my daughter pitching in with what and how she wants this year’s celebration to be. As with most kids, I know that her birthday is the biggest day for her. However, what I didn’t realize is that all that’s bad about it, the Coronvirus was about to touch my life in a positive way.
This year’s party planning was all done and invitations were sent out. And then came the Coronavirus scare which led to a clamp down on all gatherings and closing down of schools and colleges. Sitting on the breakfast table, a week before the party, my husband suggested we cancel the party this year. My immediate reaction was protest – ranging from we are over-reacting, she will be so disappointed to invitations have already been sent out. I was visibly upset and uncomfortable with the idea, so much that I refused to communicate the news to my daughter, despite seeing the reason behind it. And so the job fell on my husband’s shoulders.
When he told her the same, she has small tears in her eyes. But as he explained the situation, I saw her slowly firm up and whole heartedly give up all the plans – the entire turnaround taking less than 5 minutes. I still expected her to complain, not realizing that the one complaining is actually me. It took me several hours to accept the changed plan while she hopped off to play and never mentioned it again.
Two days after this morning it dawned upon me that instead of making the day big, I had made the ritual bigger. And in the bargain, I had underestimated my child’s ability to adapt and severely undermined her understanding and intelligence. For me she was a baby who wants her party; but I saw now that she was a sensible girl who understood her role in battling a crisis. It also made me realize that how often we restrict our children because of our own limitations, whereas they may be capable of demonstrating maturity way beyond their age.
We still had a celebration and spent the whole day playing together. She declared it her best birthday ever. And the lesson I learnt, I hope to continue to remember for the rest of my parenting life.