Happy 18th Birthday — Have Some Handcuffs

Turning 18 is a milestone in many cultures. Yet, there is nothing celebratory about the way the United States’ current Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents are marking the occasion for unaccompanied minor immigrants.

ICE agents are shackling and relocating teens in shelters as soon as they turn 18, according to the Miami New Times. Since April, the report said, at least 14 teens had been taken from the Homestead Temporary Shelter for Unaccompanied Children on their birthdays — when they become legal adults.

“When they turn 18, it’s basically, ‘Happy birthday,’ and then they slap on handcuffs and take them off to adult detention centers,” Lisa Lehner, an attorney with the nonprofit Americans for Immigrant Justice, told the New Times.

The percentage of kids turning 18 in detention and being turned over to ICE has more than doubled since 2014, according to a report by news site Documented, cited on The Hill. In 2017, 2.4 percent of minor detainees “aged out” and were arrested by ICE, compared to 1 percent in 2014, according to Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR) numbers quoted by Documented.

Americans for Immigrant Justice has filed suit, but Broward County isn’t the only site of these shelter arrests. Janet Gwilym, the managing attorney of Kids in Need of Defense, said ICE agents regularly show up at shelters at 11:30 p.m. on the eve of detainees’ 18th birthdays. At midnight, agents will shackle the now-adult detainees and take them to jail. 

“I believe it’s a psychological strategy they’re using to try to get them to just give up and go back back home, even if they know they’ll be killed if they go back,” Gwilym said.

There are dramatic differences between the environment in an adult facility and a temporary shelter such as Homestead, the activists noted in news articles. Plus, the government is obligated under what’s known as the Flores settlement to seek the least restrictive environment for minors, including alternate housing like placement with relatives or foster care — and to do it quickly. Instead, the new practice is handcuffs and quick shuttling to prison.

I never thought I’d be writing about immigration issues, but this is not the kind of birthday surprise we should keep quiet about.

Going with the Flo for Birthday Generosity

I live in a city that is bracing for residual impacts of Hurricane Florence. We’re expecting heavy rains and high winds tomorrow. Already the trees in my backyard are dancing, and the kids in the neighborhood are too (since they’ve been out of school since Wednesday afternoon). I’m a little anxious about what might be coming our way. But, this happy hurricane-related birthday generosity helped me feel better.

In other parts of North Carolina, there have been evacuations and Flo came to shore howling hard. But, Red Cross workers in Hay River, N.C. still found time to share the birthday spirit. Upon learning that two teens in their shelter were having birthdays, they held an impromptu birthday party. They brought in a cake to serve and pizza for a shared celebration for the displaced 11-year-old and a 13-year-old.

“It’s the most humbling experience you’ll ever have. It really is, to see people happy and to know they feel comfortable and they feel safe, is our reward. That’s what we appreciate,” a Red Cross worker at the shelter told a CBS News outlet.

I appreciate the feel-good story related to birthdays. My stress levels about the pending storm may even have gone down while writing this!

Plus, while looking for a good image to use with this blog, I came across an article entitled: “You’ve Been Cutting Birthday Cake Wrong For Your Entire Life.” Oh my goodness, you know there is a blog waiting to happen there! I’ll get that one out to you in October (just before celebrating my own birthday—Yippee).

No Birthday at School? Still Fun to be had.

classroom birthday

Foter.com

For all the complaints about helicopter parenting, any parent today can tell you there’s also a long list of things we’re not allowed to do for our children these days. Especially when it comes to birthdays at school.

You can find a school that has banned any of these ways of celebrating with classmates:

  • Sweet treats (too sugary).
  • Homemade treats (could be allergens!).
  • Store bought treats (sugar, allergens, undue financial pressure on classmates).
  • Paddy whacks.

Recently, in honor of back to school, a local ABC affiliate ran a segment on a non-food related way of marking the special day — paper plate crowns. Yes, you too can have the birthday fun of cutting up a paper plate and coloring on it and adding some stickers.

I’m all for the premise behind the interviewee’s business: “We love coming up with ways to use very based supplies to have a great time and make a cool craft.” Plus, she made a smart suggestion of getting the markers at back to school sales, so that each child could get their own set to take home.

Still, I’m not buying her argument that this is perfect for all ages. Plus, since she poohed poohed the TV host’s suggestion of sparkles (“teachers won’t like that”), there’s little to make the birthday child’s crown stand out.

classroom birthday

Foter.com

So, while I applaud the creativity of coming up with a non-sugar solution to the rampant ban on birthday commemorations at school, I suggest we keep our thinking caps on a little longer to come up with something more personalized and appropriate for wider age ranges.

Of course, I’m still in favor of the sweets once in a while in the classroom. My concession would be to have a cake once a month to celebrate all of the birthdays in the class within those 28-31 days. Then, on each of that month’s celebrants’ actual birthdays they could sing “Happy Birthday” to give the child the individualized birthday love they deserve.

Keep the Birthday Going As Long As You Want

 

Last blog I admitted my interest in American actress turned English Duchess, Meghan Markle. Kristen Bell is a celeb I pay even more attention to. C’mon she rocked as Veronica Mars and now is a treat in The Good Place. She also seems super-sweet and uses her fame for good (follow her on IG). Plus, she married Dax Shephard, who I also admire (after binge watching all of Parenthood earlier this year).

So, imagine my joy when I read this couple keep the birthday celebrations going as long as possible in their household!

Bell told Entertainment Weekly, “We have a rule in our family that it’s your birthday until you decide it’s no longer your birthday…Last year, I went well into September.”

You might need to know the actress turned 38 on July 18, 2018. Her hubby posted a fun pic of her. She posted an IG pic of her morning “makeover” courtesy of her daughters and the egg sandwich they served her in bed.

And before you think this actress just uses her birthday to soak up the pampering, note that she shared a follow-up Instagram video about donating $4,457 to help an immigrant mother reunite with her child. “What I really wanted for my birthday this year was a peaceful feeling,” she said.

Since Bell extended her birthday into September, it’s probably a good thing that Dax was born in January. Their daughters, Delta Bell and Lincoln, likely love the rule too!

In the meantime, since she may still be celebrating, I guess it wouldn’t be too late to send these to her social media accounts?

This is Valentino, a sloth at the National Aviary, celebrating his second birthday October, 2017.

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Or this one might make her smile too:

First Birthday as A Duchess

I enjoy keeping up with the British royals. Then, having watched Suits, seeing Meghan Markle join the fold was an added bonus!

Meghan Markle Birthday

Meghan’s first birthday as Duchess of Sussex this August prompted a great deal of media coverage. Some snippets:

  • She turned 37 this year on Aug. 4.
  • She spent the day at a friend’s wedding, where she had what was billed as a “wardrobe malfunction.” Stepping out of the car and waving she exposed a bit of a lacy bra and was later seen mingling with her shirt dress buttoned up a bit tighter.
  • As a Royal she is not allowed to have a big party. Only the reigning monarch gets the full fanfare (as the Queen did earlier this year).
  • She may also have to return gifts. Official guidelines read: “Gifts offered by private individuals living in the UK not personally known to the Member of the Royal Family should be refused where there are concerns about the propriety or motives of the donor or the gift itself.”
  • Prince Charless, Princess Beatrice, Princess Anne, and Lady Amelia Windsor are four other Royals who celebrate August birthdays.
  • None of these Royals would get the first bite of their birthday cake if the Queen was in attendance — she gets dibs!

Harry and Meghan had to return a total £7million worth of presents following their wedding.

Birthday Wishes

These prohibitions may be a bit more challenging for Meghan than your average 37-year-old. The American-born actress, raised by a single Mom, has said her mother told her to treat her birthday as if it were her “own personal New Year.”

Back when she was blogging, she wrote that birthdays are “your own chance to make resolutions just for yourself and what you prognosticate for the year ahead” and told readers she always wished for “more inspiration.”

Another article gave us a fuller quote from the now defunct blog site, noting that she wishes for: “More surprises, more adventure, more opportunities to grow, more days filled with giggles and cheeky jokes, more delicious meals, and more inspiration. Always more inspiration.”

I was particularly happy to see the longer list! Makes me feel a bit better about all the wants I have on my own birthdays! I will also, in October this year, add to my list, wishing that I could be as flexible as she proves to be in this photo!

 

Birthdays Don’t Always Go as Planned

As a big fan of birthdays I tend to focus on the positives. Yet, I am not the ostrich bearing her head in the sand. I recognize not everyone has the same enthusiasm for their birthday. Yet someone over at Insider decided to actively seek out bad birthday experiences. They gathered 19 “worst birthday horror stories” from Reddit. I thought I’d share some of these “disastrous events.”

There’s the person who spent $300 on an expensive dinner and had his/her girlfriend break up with him on the drive home.

birthday disaster

foter.com

Or another individual whose girlfriend forgot his/her 19th birthday and made him/her wait in line for hours at her college bookstore before delaying his/her return home to the traditional birthday pizza dinner with his own parents.

But they’re both trumped in my mind by the writer who’s boyfriend left him/her at the bar on her birthday — without telling him/her he was leaving!  

There are also tales of surprise parties ruined. But the winner in that category is the one who was worried his wife’s “keeping secrets” meant she was cheating. She was in fact planning a party with several close friends not seen in years, but…she was also having an affair.

Injuries and Worse on Birthdays

Another writer received a physical hit instead of an emotional one. “On my 10th birthday, my mom got a piñata. My best friend was trying to hit the piñata, and on his backswing, he clocked me right in the forehead.” While friends rushed to the candy from the piñata opened on the friend’s forward swing, the birthday celebrant fell to the ground bleeding with a “huge gash” on his/her head. Five stitches in the hospital were needed.

birthday piñata

Image source: Foter.com

Someone else recalled a brother slamming his/her face into the cake, missing the cake, and instead bashing the seven-year-old’s face into the table. “I started crying and got blood all over my cake,” this person wrote. Oh, and, “this happened again when I was 9.” That’s the kicker for me. Really? Again!

A 16-year-old with whooping cough needed to be quarantined. But the parents apparently still wanted to celebrate, so they put the ill teen in the basement and party upstairs. The writer said, “they put a piece at the top of the stairs for me.”

Another writer’s Dad ran over the cat in the family driveway, in full sight of the birthday goer and his/her friends having picked them up from a movie for the sleepover portion of the party. Two of the friends saw the “pancaked” body before the father was able to “hide the body.” Let’s just agree those are three words you don’t want associated with your birthday. 

I’ve written before about death on birthdays, and read about people getting shot at birthday parties, but even still, I can’t agree with the article’s suggestion that their stories “will make you not want to celebrate.” I doubt anything has the power to make me not want to make a big deal of my birthday, and those of the ones I love.

Birthday Bear Marketing Mayhem

When I was younger, I was a teddy bear collector. I loved plush bears, but all sorts of accessories with bears on them too. So, I probably would have lost my mind over Build-a-Bear’s “Pay Your Age” promotion — if I’d lived somewhere with the store.

Apparently, I would not have been the only person ready to lose their mind over the marketing ploy. Hundreds of people got in line to take advantage of the sale. Thousands of people received vouchers inviting them to purchase their toy another time. The company’s original July 12 event was so popular they had to call it off.

birthday marketing

“Based on the unprecedented response to our Pay Your Age Day event in our early opening stores, we are experiencing significantly longer than expected lines and large crowds. Local authorities are requiring us to limit the lines and crowds due to safety concerns,” the company stated.

Build-a-Bear stores, usually found in malls but also at tourist attractions in North America and Great Britain, let kids (and kids at heart) create a stuffed animal from scratch. The stuffed toys are not cheap — typically running $20 or more when you add in accessories. So people were excited over the idea of even kids as young as one-year-old being able to get in on the deal.

Build-a-Bear CEO’s Sharon Price John even ended up TODAY doing damage control. “We did see it wind up in social (media), and we did put a notice out for people that we thought the lines could be long, and we worked with the malls, but it was beyond anything we could’ve ever imagined.”

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Birthday Marketing Mayhem

In bringing back the promotion, the company has linked the idea more effectively to birthdays. On your birthday, you can “pay your age” to get a Birthday Treat Bear. The smiling brown bear, which normally costs $14, is available through the new “Count Your Candles” program. 

The kerfuffle was meant to launch the new Birthday Treat Bear, the CEO said. “Because up to one-third of our sales are actually associated with kids’ birthdays. It’s their most special day.

With the new iteration of the promotion, Build-a-Bear joins a long line of retailers marketing birthday-related deals. Based on a blog last month, though, in which a guy wrote to Ms. Manners to complain about embarrassing birthday attention — only ask about the birthday deal if you’re ready for a serenade or having someone else pick your dessert.