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When life gives you lemons, serve ice cream cake

Our eighth grader’s farewell ceremony was in-person for the students but virtual for the families, and I missed it. I tried to log on so many different ways, but I could not see it.

In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t a big deal. But it felt like just another disappointment in a series of middle school moments we’ve lost due to the pandemic. I was frustrated and upset, and I cried.

Technology can be the best, and technology can be the worst.

Sometimes when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. And sometimes when life gives you lemons, you push them down the garbage disposal and make your own fun.

That day when I missed the virtual ceremony, I did more than my share of complaining. Then I texted a couple of fellow mom friends that I knew were going to the outdoor picnic for the eighth grade that afternoon to invite them to go to brunch beforehand—and we did.

I threw together a poster to take to celebrate our son. I cut up some watermelon to bring along as a treat for him to enjoy at the picnic. And I had a great time with my friends while our graduate had fun playing kickball with his.

Then I threw myself into planning a graduation party. We rented a Game Truck, which has long been a dream of mine, and the boys played 90 minutes of video games and then even more minutes of badminton together.

I had this idea to invite his friends’ parents to come for the last part of the party and enjoy dessert with John and me on the deck, and many of them accepted my invitation. It was so wonderful to sit on our deck as the sun went down and celebrate our sons, the friendships they’ve made, and the friendships their parents have made, too.

The pandemic put so much on hold, but it also brought many of us closer together. We chatted and laughed and ate our way through ice cream cake and brownies.

Afterward, as I was doing the dishes, I thought of the ice cream store employee who greeted me when I went to pick up our cake.

As we were chatting, I mentioned that the cake was for an eighth-grade graduation party.

“I missed my eighth-grade graduation,” she told me and went on to share her story. There was a teacher who didn’t like her and gave her repeated uniform violations. When it was time for her to graduate, the school administration told her she couldn’t walk in the ceremony. Her family was so upset.

We talked about how sad it was for her to miss out on that experience and how her aunt was the most disappointed of all. Then I thanked her for the cake, and we parted with smiles.

As I carried my cake to the car, I thought of those moments we miss. Sometimes it’s because of uniform violations, sometimes it’s because of a global pandemic, and sometimes it’s because technology fails you. Life can be unfair.

But it’s also full of so much sweetness. I’m grateful for the moments we can celebrate, the friends we’ve made, and future graduations that I hope I don’t need to log on for. We’ve missed out on plenty over the past few years, but we’ve gained lots, too. And thank goodness we didn’t need a password or a link to access the best parts. Especially the ice cream cake.

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