Last year, my son had a blowout planned for his 13th birthday: a two-day sleepover with five of his closest friends that scheduled to include Minecraft, non-stop screaming, activities involving loud, mysterious banging sounds, light property damage, and perhaps some minor injuries. Two weeks before the party we went into lockdown, everything was canceled, and believe it or not, I was devastated. Sure, his birthday weekend was probably going be two of the most agonizing days of my life, but I’d spent the 364 days since his 12th birthday preparing for it. I had earplugs, tranquilizers, and a YouTube playlist of guided meditations. I was ready for what I assumed would be the worst. Then I had to watch my son’s heart shatter into a million pieces over something I was powerless to fix, thanks to a situation I didn’t know how to explain. That was the worst.
By now all of you parents out there have had this agonizing experience at least once, and this Sunday, I get to watch my son have his second pandemic birthday. This one’s a bit easier for him to swallow, because seeing as how he’s spent a bit more than 7% of his entire life in quarantine, he’s adjusted better to this world than any adult I know. However, my husband and I are not taking this very well at all, and have decided to overcompensate to make ourselves feel like better parents. For the next three days he and his brother are allowed to play all the video games they want, and can eat whatever they want, too. They’re allowed to have chips, soda, and all the other stuff I try to keep out of the house. We also said we’d cook anything he wanted since it’s a special occasion, completely forgetting that boys’ eating habits change around their 14th birthday. This is the list we were given, and, no, I am not making this up:
Two roasting pans of buttermilk biscuits
Corn dogs (mini, if possible)
Crinkle-cut French fries and curly fries from Arby’s
Roasted rack of lamb
Mint jelly and crackers
Chocolate layer cake
Tiny meatballs on toothpicks
Giant meatballs with tomato sauce
Fried chicken legs
Lemon meringue pie
Lobsters (yes, that’s plural)
Once I’m done laughing in my son’s face (which will be in an hour or so), I’m going to whittle this list down to maybe three or four things, which will probably be the ones I can order for delivery, because this list has so exhausted me that I’m too tired to cook. I can’t blame the kid for trying, though. I mean, if someone was foolish enough to give me carte blanche on my birthday, I would definitely be exploiting their generosity with tomahawk steaks, 6-foot heroes, and gallons of pudding. What would your birthday feast look like if money, calories, and your general well-being weren’t an issue?