Posts tagged ‘birthday parties’

But once a year

     I hate birthday parties. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again, I’m sure. I hate them when C doesn’t get invited, and I hate them when he does (a rarity; today was the first this school year). I dread them, know they are going to be terrible, and know that I’ll come home feeling sad, frustrated and angry. The birthday party has, for me, replaced the park in terms of my least favorite thing to do with C. It represents all his challenges rolled into one – large groups of boys running around mostly unfacilitated, unsupervised as long as they aren’t killing each other, and doing unstructured activities. You know, everyday life with a typical boy.

     When C was about a year and a half old, and not walking yet, the differences in him were so apparent at the park, each time I took him the pain threatened to burst through. I’d often stand at the playground, tears leaking out, being thankful for sunglasses and that I didn’t know anyone there. Now birthday parties have taken over the bad spot, only it’s a bit worse because I actually do know people there. I expected the worst today, so I was moderately prepared, but it still feels like a ton of bricks crashing down. At least now I’m starting to grow a helmet and don’t expect much.

     Yet I always come away with the same frustration. What is it about kids being mean? Why do we accept that being mean and hurtful is just part of growing up? Is it really a necessary developmental stage? I even think it myself, and find myself explaining away a kid’s bad behavior. “Kids are kids,” I hear myself saying, and I try to remember that most of them are good kids. I know even my kid has done things that seem unkind, but when I watch a child consistently exclude C throughout the party, taunting him and teasing him, and calling him “stupid,” I can’t forgive it or get past it. I just don’t get it.

     While other kids have an ability to slough things off, I’m not sure C does. He’s not wandering around tonight, crying that someone said he was stupid. Yet I suspect that there’s a chink in his armor, even if he doesn’t recognize it for what it is, and how many of those can he take? How long before all the good things the people who love him say to him are broken down by the bad things he hears elsewhere? And what happens then?

January 19, 2009 at 10:10 pm 9 comments

Big Deal

     C had a big moment the other day. No, I must correct that – a HUGE moment. Something came in the mail addressed to him, something I’ll probably save in the little pile I keep of huge moment momentos. It’s something I’d almost given up on ever happening, resigning myself to the fact that this moment might never arrive. Yet it did. With great fanfare.

     For the first time in his life, C has received a special kind of birthday party invitation. Not just any party, but one that takes place at Chuck E. Cheese, his favorite place on the planet. He doesn’t even know there’s pizza there as that’s completely off his radar screen – and he has no interest in eating it. It’s the games, the tokens, the tickets, the prizes, and being there with other kids he knows.

     Why so special? This is the first birthday party invitation he’s ever received simply because the birthday child really wants him there. It had nothing to do with the Moms being friends, or because the whole class was invited, or because the neighbors had to invite him so he doesn’t feel left out. This invitation, in all its glory, came simply from one little boy to another, from one friend to another, just because the friend wanted C at his party.

     That kid is going to get one rocking birthday present.

August 12, 2008 at 1:59 am 8 comments

More on acceptance, or is it denial?

        I hate birthday parties. They generally are everything C struggles with combined into one event. Eating, waiting (for someone else to open presents), unstructured play, social situations, noise, groups of boys, and mean kids. Navigating the birthday party waters is fraught with potential disasters, most of which occurred today.

     The problem is, C loves everyone. No matter the wrong done to him, everyone is a friend. I love that about him. What I don’t like about it is the future I see for him – being picked on relentlessly. I watched today as a group of boys played a game of tag, and no one was ever “it” except for C. For anyone watching, it looked like he was fully participating in the group; what was really going on was a very subtle form of bullying. He had a blast for awhile, and then he wandered off to play alone.

      The disconnect for me is that I keep thinking because he is so kind-hearted and friendly, kids will want to be his friend despite his idiosyncracies. What I realized is he’s never going to fit into their world. You’d think I was new to his diagnosis, because every time I realize this fact, it hits me like a ton of bricks. It’s not about some desire of mine for him to be popular – I just want him to have friends, so I try to teach him the necessary skills. It’s what he wants. I’m following his lead, and I never want to give up for him or on him. 

     I had an epiphany today, and it wasn’t a particularly pleasant one. I realized my child has autism. I know this in my head, but for my heart it’s always a surprise when it remembers. For all that carries with it, whatever interesting and wonderful things come out of it, it breaks my heart that what he wants the most is probably the one thing that will never come easily to him.


February 25, 2008 at 4:51 am 2 comments

It’s all autism, all the time.

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