Being somewhere between a birthday party “in the car” and a birthday “in a room full of aerosols” makes celebrating your 16th birthday stranger than it already is. No one other than me is surprised that I have the softest nostalgia about this milestone, which is less like a milestone due to COVID and also because of its disinterest in driving so far. Little things took place of the holidays and worry about solo road trips. Things like the hours spent in his room, the big change in the types of gifts requested, and that he needs to bend down a bit to give me a hug.
Even though it’s well past the stage of placing them next to a sign showing their age, height, favorite foods, and recent accomplishments, I feel very much in that frame of mind. BTW, the answers are 16, too big, things that come in any form of crumpled packaging, and choose what Seattle Kraken gear he’ll wear to school the night before. Since this column is not (only) meant for self-indulgence, but I can’t forget the it’s your life style montage that’s going through my mind, I thought about combining the two and talk about all the local events and places that he likes or has loved over the years. I’m so afraid of forgetting something important, so if I forget you, I’m sorry and if it makes you feel good, it’s not personal – I can’t call children by the right name anymore.
When he was about 3.5 years old and had a brand new brother, I called the front desk at the Frances Anderson Center after seeing a few activity options and asked Debbie Johnson, now retired and always missed, which she suggested. Ben was listed at the late Camp Goodtime during that phone call. Camp Goodtime not only took us to longtime friends, but also to Meadowdale Preschool, which we both really loved (and found even more lasting friendships.) Meadowdale Preschool, although currently full, opens registrations for the 2022-2023 school year in March. You can find more information about the program at EdmondsWA.gov.
When he was old enough he started doing camps as part of the city’s discovery programs. Led by naturalist rangers, these camps allowed him to roam Yost, learn bird calls, dissect owl pellets, and learn all about Puget Sound. He would come home covered in dirt or sand with his relief clothes on and he was incredibly happy. We even hired a Naturalist Ranger to guide the kids at low tide for his brother’s birthday, it was a great time and we all learned a lot! This year they are offering a nature camp during spring break and Jennifer Leach, Discovery Programs Coordinator, told me that they are also planning to have summer camps this year. You can find these programs in Madness and online on RecZone.org. For more information on their annual events, like the next Starlight Beach Walk scheduled for January 28 at 6:30 p.m., you can visit EdmondsWA.gov.
After showing little to no interest in football, but needing some sort of activity for all of his toddler-to-kid transition energy, we took him to a Try Hockey Free event with the Seattle Junior Hockey Association (SJHA) when he was 4 years old. Fast forward to friends, free skates at the Lynnwood Ice Center and an obsession with our new NHL team, the sport has held a big place in his life. Not all hockey is about weekly trips to Canada and going to live with a family in Minnesota – there are teams for different skill levels and options to start later than your preschool years. SJHA is hosting another Try Hockey Free event on March 5 at the Olympic View Ice Arena in Mountlake Terrace, followed by a new season of beginner hockey, which includes an option for newcomers ages 10 and up. Older skaters can volunteer during the beginner sessions which my favorite skater finds both rewarding and hysterical. You can find more information and register on SJHA.com
After one too many swimming lessons in a hot, noisy, chlorine-filled room while chasing after his little brother, I gave up group swimming lessons. Although his swimming was usable, he needed an activity after an injury, so swimming was a great option for getting active. The teen swimming lessons were perfect. It was a smaller group, away from the younger ones, with less waiting for your turn. I couldn’t have predicted how well it would turn out and over the three sessions we did I saw that the other adults bringing in teens were also happy. You can find more information about these courses and all other pool related options at PlayLynnwood.com.
Lynnwood Summer Day Camp was a lifeline after Edmonds Day Camp was no longer an option. You can choose a week or all summer (although you need to register early) and spend the days outside at Lynndale Park, taking trips to the Lynnwood Pool, and learning every camp song you can. As the children grow older it is possible to be a junior counselor. The registration fees are lower than the day camp and although some of the activities are what I call “beside the job” there are always activities specially designed for them. My son finally got the chance to be a Junior Instructor and loved the camaraderie, the feeling of being a little higher in rank and moving into nickname status where campers only know you and their counselors through the nickname they chose. My two kids have been there, and it was a great option for a week here or there or the whole summer including pre and post camp options. You can find registration and more information on PlayLynnwood.com.
The Edmonds School District hosted one of my son’s (and my) favorite camps: Summer Music School. I want to talk over and over again about the summer music school; walking in a group is something he always wanted to do and it was the perfect opportunity. The summer music school offers many options – from theater and songwriting to jazz band – and allows students to try out new instruments with no rental fees. My son was able to participate in a Korean percussion group and try his hand at steel drums with the leader of Steel Magic Northwest, two ways of working on percussion while trying out a new thing. Summer music school has been postponed during COVID, but you can keep an eye out for updates on Edmonds.Wednet.Edu.
My son’s birthday was certainly affected by COVID, but we did our best to celebrate We went down to Climate Pledge Arena to visit The Lair, which is the team store inside the arena . It was amazing to be inside, even barely, and of course the store has every Kraken item imaginable. Then we crossed the water to our favorite burger restaurant, Coastline Burgers in Kirkland, where we are in shock every time we visit because of its quality. The icing on the cake was the chance to see her birthday twin and her best friend, our neighbor’s card with one dollar for each year of your age with the offer expiring at 18, home deliveries of friends and messages from friends and family.
– By Jennifer Marx
Jen Marx, a mother of two boys in Edmonds, is always on the lookout for a fun place to take the kids that tires them enough to get to bed on time.