Echuca brothers celebrate birthdays with virtual party

By Ivy Jensen

ARCHIE and Charlie Flanigan have a tradition for their birthdays.

They always have a party with their extended family.

Sadly, isolation restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic has meant the young brothers are stuck at home with no visitors allowed.

But thanks to group video chat app Houseparty, the Echuca siblings were able to have a virtual birthday party.

Archie, who turned 6 on Monday, and Charlie, who was 9 on Wednesday, couldn’t have been happier.

“We had 12 people in six different locations singing happy birthday simultaneously,” mum Emily said.

“It was so lovely and just made the day and the boys really got a kick out of it.

“Archie just thought it was hilarious and was quite mesmerised by it and kept asking me how they got in there.

“It was really nice for them that they could still enjoy their birthday and a celebration cake with their cousins, uncles, aunties and grandparents even though it was slightly different.

“We also had a good chat and played a trivia game on the app which was just hilarious and so chaotic.”

Emily said being separated from the outside world had been hard for the family of four because it was so social.

“It’s weird because we’re together all the time and we haven’t been able to see each other,” she said.

“For me, I feel like my arm has been chopped off but I’m sure I’ll relax into it.

“The boys are coping better than me. We’ve got a fairly busy life but the boys love being at home more than anything and Charlie is a real homebody.

“Archie keeps asking when he can go back to school. He’s still little and doesn’t have a real concept of time yet.”

Seeing their pharmacist father Clint head off to Moama Village Pharmacy every day also made things a little harder to understand.

“They watch him go to work and come home and disinfect himself and wash his hands 100 times a day,” she said.

For Emily, who is a social worker at Twin Rivers Primary School, she is unsure what the future holds.

“As far as I know, we’re returning as planned but what that looks like I don’t know,” she said.

“We are planning for the possibility of remote learning but for now it looks like we’ll be open for at least children of essential workers.”

In the meantime, Emily will be keeping in touch with family and friends the only way she can.

“Tonight, I’m having drinks with my girlfriends via FaceTime,” she laughed.

“We live in such a different era … and it is isolating but the silver lining is you can still connect if you choose, albeit differently.”