The Pandemic, 7th Birthday, and Friendships

Written by: Allan on

Oriol, Grant, Everett, Sydney, and Kayla preparing for cherry seed spitting contest at Sydney’s 7th birthday party

One silver lining of living in New York is that our state has handled the COVID-19 pandemic as well as any state in the country.

In our community, Sea Cliff has had a total of 55 cases since the beginning or just about 1% of the population. However, most of those happened early with only four new identified cases in the last two months. The chance of someone we meet in Sea Cliff having the virus is low.

Nevertheless, everyone is still taking precautions. For Sydney and me, that means limiting the sizes of group gatherings, reducing the number of people with whom we interact, and doing almost all social interactions outdoors. The result is we have four families with whom we socialize on a regular basis, determined more by the parents and their own safety practices as by the kids.

For Sydney’s seventh birthday on August 4th, I invited three of these families over for an outdoor dinner. Of the five kids attending, four were boys and none were Sydney’s age. With the weather service accurately telling us we would be facing strong winds and rain from the effects of an offshore hurricane, I moved the party to August 3rd and we all had a good time. The next day on Sydney’s birthday, we managed to get a horseback riding lesson in before the storm hit. We wandered the streets to survey the storm damage and then had a powerless candlelight dinner together that evening.

At age seven Sydney is happy almost all the time and is not picky about with whom she spends time. I predict that will change and Sydney will either want to spend time with her friends from school or will need to make better friendships with girls her age in Sea Cliff.

Sydney’s best friends are her school friends but I did not invite them to her birthday dinner, as I did last year, for multiple reasons. For one thing, we needed to keep the group size small. Secondly, Sydney socializes with these girls – her best friends – only when with her mom. This is not through lack of trying on my part but, for whatever reason, I have had little success getting the Green Vale parents to organize playdates when Sydney is with me. Plus, I wanted to avoid the fiasco of last year when Devon held a surprise party the day after Sydney’s birthday party at my house, forcing all the Green Vale kids and parents to attend two parties in a row. This year, I let Devon host those kids.

My plan to create better friendships with Sea Cliff girls of Sydney’s age has also been set way back. My big effort has been leading the Girl Scouts and it was working; we had had play dates with nine different local girls in the six months before the pandemic. That mostly stopped as families retrenched to socialize with the friends, family, and neighbors in their inner circles.

The result is I am a little sad for our current social situation and a little worried about setting up Sydney for success with friendships in the coming years – and even as soon as this winter when outdoor play dates become impossible. But the good news is Sydney is a happy, fun, and flexible little girl so together we will figure it out.