Celebrating your kid's birthday during a global pandemic is tough.
Jackie Picton had to cancel her son's 7th birthday party with friends and family. And then there was the loss of the traditional dinner out, restaurant selected by the birthday boy.
But the greatest disappointment, perhaps, was the cancellation of a field trip and picnic at Catalina State Park, planned for the same day as his birthday.
"He turned 7 on Friday," Picton says. "And that day, assuming he would have been in school, they were going to go on a field trip, and my husband, his father, was going to join and chaperone and bring class treats. And he was so sad to spend his birthday alone and miss those fun class activities."
So his class brought the fun to him.
On Friday, March 27, Picton got a text from her son's first grade teacher at Wilson K-8 School, Kathryn Jackson, to come outside.
"I thought she might drive by or wave, but I had no idea," Picton says.
Instead, Jackson rallied other families in her first grade class to drive down the Pictons' street in a birthday car parade. Cars honked and first-graders held "happy birthday" signs out the windows while the Pictons stood on the sidewalk. (Car parades have become something of a trend as teachers try to connect with their students amid school closures).
Jackson laughs recalling how her students hung out of car windows, yelling at each other.
"They miss each other a lot," she says. "That's one of the most heartbreaking things about all of this."
At the end of the parade, Jackson presented the birthday boy with a box full of handwritten cards from his classmates, birthday decorations, games to play with his family, party hats, cupcakes and more.
"He was stunned," Picton says. "He was shy and so caught off guard, and I noticed at the end, when the parade left, he was almost in tears. He talked about it all day long and through the rest of the weekend."
To pay it forward, Picton hopes to join birthday parades for other kids.
"With what's going on in our community, even something as normal as a birthday can be disrupted," Picton says. "But there are such good people to fill in the gaps."