A Newmarket teenager was not expecting much for her 14th birthday. Schools are cancelled. Restaurants are closed. Malls are shut down. Large gatherings are prohibited.
And it’s all due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chase Ernewein would usually celebrate her special day with her friends, classmates, and volleyball teammates. This year, Chase wanted a sleepover with her peers.
“We would have had a birthday party at the end of (volleyball) practice with cupcakes and singing and, and lots of cheering,” Ernewein’s mom, Renée told CP24.com.
Renee said the novel coronavirus outbreak has forced her and many around the world to find a new normal. Since COVID-19 was classified as a pandemic, countries have put different measures in place to stop the spread of the virus. Public health authorities have urged the public to limit social interactions to flatten the curve, easing the burden on the health care system.
Despite the new normal, Renée said she wanted to maintain some stability and traditions for her daughter.
So, she concocted a plan days before Chase’s birthday, calling her friends and teammates.
“It took a lot of secrecy,” Renée said.
Renée decorated her car with balloons and put a sign that said, “Happy Birthday.”
“When I first saw the car all decorated, I thought it was really nice of my mom to put that much work into it,” Chase said.
On a windy Thursday morning, Renée then drove Chase around the neighbourhood to stop by at her friends’ houses. Still, in their pyjamas, her friends were standing on front porches, holding birthday signs.
To adhere to social distancing, Chase stayed in the car with their dog Millie, watching her friends wish her a happy birthday.
“It was very thoughtful of my friends to take time and make those signs and come out of their house in the morning when they would probably be sleeping,” Chase said.
The neighbours who greeted them with a smile while the mother and daughter drove around made it more special, Renée said.
“I just wanted her to feel special,” she said. “It was a really nice morning.”
Renee said a lot of parents are thinking about how to teach their children to cope through something parents have never been through before.
“And I wanted her to know that we can smile in the face of adversity, and we can still laugh, and we can still try to make the world keep going regardless of what’s going on right now. And maybe try to teach that we can help other people,” she said.
She said they are trying to move forward the best they can with learning at home and having discussions on what’s happening. Renée said she is finding different ways to keep her daughter learning and growing amid the outbreak.
Chase said she used to not enjoy school, but after two weeks without seeing her classmates, she misses them. She said the pandemic has changed everything, adding that she can’t play her favourite sport anymore with teammates.
“I miss socializing with friends, and I miss waking up every day, um, to go see my friends and just to have that routine pretty much. And this whole virus kind of ruined going out and socializing and just living your normal life,” Chase said.
Just like most people these days, Chase’s only way to see and talk to her friends is through texting and FaceTime.
To culminate Chase’s special day, Renée said they would be sharing a cake.