Sunday, May 22, 2011

Birthday Parties

I forgot about my younger son's looming birthday. Go ahead. Think that I am shameful. I think it's pretty bad myself. I am really good with Mommy Guilt.

Lately, I have been tumbleweed being blown through the day from one crisis to another. I barely know the day of the week much less the date of the month. And so, this is how I found myself in a jam a week out from my son's birthday with absolutely no plan.

On top of being organizationally challenged, for the past few years of parenting a child with high functioning autism, I have been faced with the question of how to throw a birthday party for a child who has no friends.

It isn't that our son doesn't want friends. I think he actually craves it. It's just that, as he gets older, children are less tolerant of his poor social skills. They don't want our son to bite at them like a wild animal. They don't know how to interact with someone who spews pokemon facts like some sort of mechanical output device.

My son knows his birthday is coming. He is excited about a party. Yet I have no thoughts for a party and nobody to invite.

Factoring into the equation is our older son, who cannot tolerate parties. People scare him. Noises scare him. Social gatherings are anything but fun for him. We have long since accepted the fact that we will not be throwing birthday parties for our first born child. It isn't his thing. After a while, we stopped trying to make him attend his younger brother's parties as well. If his brother ever asks why his older sibling isn't there, well, we'll just have to be honest. We cannot hide the fact that this child's special needs are just too great to be able to withstand something most find to be so easy and fun as a party.

Understanding that, what, exactly, do we DO with our older son while we are celebrating with our younger son? Nobody else can watch him. His needs are great enough and he has become strong enough that we have not found anyone who is able to step into the shoes of the parent. We've tried and failed.

Birthdays in families like mine are a divisive issue. Extended families don't understand the extent of the need. No matter how you arrange it, usually one spouse misses out on the fun event. It takes an extraordinary effort to pull off--all of it behind the scenes. All of it, to look and feel "normal."

My husband is the person to take the hit for the family during our younger son's parties. He takes over the watch of our older son and basically is an absentee parent for the birthday festivities. I'm sorry about that. We don't have any pictures of parents celebrating a birthday with the kids, but that's okay. At least we have managed a celebration. If by the skin of my teeth, I am somehow able to pull off a celebration, by darn it, I'm going to do so!!

I am fortunate to have some good friends. Even better, my friends have children. About an hour after the frantic realization that I had dropped the ball on party planning this year and after several texts and emails, voila, a party was born!

Son will have his birthday party, and we are safe again for another year.

1 comment:

  1. Wow-I understand and can relate to this so completely...scary. My oldest has the sound issues and probably has Asperger Syndrome and the other two are likely on the spectrum as well as myself with opposite presentations of is interesting around here. The birthdays and planning parties and social issues are challenging but my kids almost always said they wanted "family" only parties. Glad you were able to pull a party together-you are doing great!