Neil, our almost 5-year old son came home from school last week and announced jubilantly –

I have invited my friends home for the birthday party tomorrow!

My wife and I exchanged a quick glance at each other. I could sense that she felt equal pride and disappointment at the same time. While she was proud our wee son was able to take a big decision by himself, she was also disappointed because there was no way we could fulfil a simple wish for his fifth birthday!

A lockdown in the UK was quite imminent then and we were quite sure we wouldn’t be able to meet any friends on his birthday. It was meant to be a simple celebration at home.

A fifth birthday is quite an important milestone and we thought we had everything he wanted: a fire-truck toy fitted with a water hose, a camera that actually clicked pictures, and a new book from his favourite book series ‘Elmer’.

Little did we realize that we did not pay heed to the most important aspect of a child’s birthday – the ability to share the joy with friends.

Back in the living room: While our son knew about the pandemic and the rules, he was also confused and angry because he met his classmates at school every weekday. The complicated rules made no sense to him.

We promised to host a birthday party as soon as the virus goes away. We even worked with him to create a birthday invite. What he envisioned for his birthday blew our minds away. His thinking was quite simple, yet quite big.

He had imagined the world the way it was a few months ago – where you could invite a few friends home and chat and eat to your heart’s content. 

Kids have an innate ability to press the reset button and adapt seamlessly – and this birthday invite was testimony to that. To our minds that had gotten used to the incessant negativity around us, a 5-year old’s innocent wish was a stark yet delightful reminder of hope and perseverance.

We really hope we are able to invite Neil’s friends over before he turns 6.

If we happen to do so, we will get him a superhero-themed cake – one with images of a new set of superheroes in a post-Covid world. The cake will adorn images of doctors, scientists, nurses and other staff who are likely to make that day possible.