As Canadians are urged to stay home during the coronavirus pandemic, many have been forced to celebrate their birthdays in isolation.
Sasha Puddifant feared that would be the case for her son Austin’s birthday on March 23, as the outbreak intensified and preventative measures mounted in Nova Scotia.
“It was emotional, for sure. The closer we got to his birthday, the less we were going to be able to do for him,” Puddifant said.
But Austin, who turned seven on Monday, got a birthday to remember when friends and family members drove by to help him celebrate the big day.
“Our family and friends are amazing — some of them drove over 45 minutes just for a quick minute of waves and to say happy birthday,” said Puddifant, getting emotional.
“He definitely deserved it though, and every time someone new drove up he just had the biggest smile on his face, so I think we were able to make him feel special regardless of all the restrictions.”
Puddifant says her son is high-functioning autistic and thrives on routine, so being in self-isolation has been a challenge.
“Not being at school has been hard on him, but we’ve been trying to create a new normal and we’re adjusting a little bit more every day,” Puddifant said.
“All things considered, he has been handling it really well. We’ve been doing a lot of celebrating, so I think that’s helping, too.”
‘Birthday parades’ replacing parties
Puddifant says the idea for Austin’s “drive-by birthday” was sparked when they saw a similar celebration on social media.
Indeed, “birthday parades” are becoming more popular across Canada.
Nixon, a six-year-old Okanagan boy, celebrated his birthday that way, too.
“We had to cancel his birthday party with friends. We had to cancel our family dinner tonight, and that’s hard,” said his mom, Jessica Kreb. “I mean, he is only six.”
Meantime, four-year-old Ben Kooner got a “birthday parade” for his birthday.
“I think like 20 people came and we didn’t know any of them, so it was so nice,” said Taryn Kooner, Ben’s mom. “He said he was having the best day ever.”
Birthday to remember
Three cars carrying eight people, including Austin’s grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins, stopped by to see him. He also received videos from 27 people wishing him a happy birthday.
“His statement at the end was, ‘Wow, we have so many friends!’ And I said, ‘No honey, that’s all for you.’ And he said, ‘Wow, I have so many friends!'” Puddifant said.
“This is probably going to be the most special birthday he’s ever had — birthday parties can’t compare to that.”