Thursday, May 10, 2012


Our older son is the kind of child who wishes away birthday pomp and circumstance. However, our younger son's birthday is fast approaching, and he wants a party.


I'm thinking of my fellow parents as I dread the task of planning this celebration.

I'm thinking of the parents of the child who stands alone on the crowded playground.

I'm thinking of the parents of the child who doesn't say the "right" things, who stands too close to others and who misses social cues.

I'm thinking of the parents of the child who wants to celebrate his birthday just like every other child but who has no friends to sit around a cake.

I know many of these parents. In fact, I'm one of them. Pulling off birthday celebrations is a Herculean effort, an effort born of love and driven by sheer determination.

In years past, our younger son's parties have happened out of the kindness of friends--friends who have offered their children as warm bodies to sit at a table and sing "Happy Birthday" to him when it was his turn to blow out those candles.

I've had years where I've tried to ignore that the day is coming, and my friends have pushed me to act.

I've had years where I've sent out invitations, each with a silent prayer that someone will respond favorably...this year was one of those years.

Truthfully, our son, overcome with anxiety from the environment of his school placement has barely spent any time in his classroom since the Christmas holiday. And yet, he wanted to invite his classmates to his party.

My stomach hurt.

Every year, he has his party on opening day at our local amusement park. What to do? Pad the invitation list, inconvenience my friends and end up inviting the entire world in the hopes that someone will show up to this party?

Or, do we take the plunge? Do we cut those apron strings from my friends and go for it? After all, I thought, he sees my friend's kids just once a year...when they come to sing to him on his birthday.

This year, I decided to do it. I sent out electronic invitations to five strangers, parents I didn't know, to see if they'd let their kids that I didn't know to come to our son's birthday party. Our son, the one who spends no time in their children's classroom at school.

Please, someone. Please say "yes".

A day went by. No answer. Two days went by. One person said "No". Three days went by, no answer. Four days went by, no answer still.

Please, I beg. Please. Someone please say, "yes".

I'll admit. I was in a panic every day. I regretted my decision. In an effort to provide a typical experience for our son, in an effort to let him spread his wings and fly, I was afraid that I set him up to fail.

And, then it arrived: a response in my email account.

It said "yes"!

Yes! Yes! My new favorite word! Thank you, oh thank you, parent that I don't know! Thank you for that "yes"!!! After that "yes" came a second from another classmate, and a third from a longtime friend who hasn't missed one of his parties since preschool.

Three friends, legitimate party-goers, are attending this party, and, while there may or may not be more attendees, I can't help but stand in a place of complete gratitude.


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  1. That is wonderful! We have always approached birthdays a little differently. Our parties are always private family affairs. I make a big deal and decorate and they are fun but I have never had the inclination to invite anyone else. I applaud you for that. I am glad that someone had the manners to accept your invitation with grace. Hooray!! I hope your son enjoys his party. Happy Birthday to him!


    1. Kathy, I've gotten sucked into "what everyone does" around here.

      My childhood was what you describe. Oh, I do remember having a couple parties, but basically we celebrated with family and loved it!

  2. Yay! I'm so glad he'll have some classmates at his party. I loved having birthday parties for my kids and they always had a blast. We always accepted the invitations that came from their classmates, too, knowing how much it meant to ours to have their friends over to celebrate with them.

    I hope everyone has a fantastic time. :O)

    1. Exactly, Beth. As our children have aged, the invitations to them have disappeared. However, when they were small, we accepted every one. We were by every cake, and we sang as loudly as possible. The smile on my face on the day of my sons' birthdays is the smile on every mother's face. I want to support those children as I would want my child supported.

      Every child deserves a happy memory.

  3. Oh joy - I got goosebumps at your YES! response. It is so hard to take those risks - I hope his party is a wonderful experience for him. And kudos to you for jumping in with the invites to those five strangers. :)

    1. So, so, SO thankful that someone is coming. He's even talking about the party now as I type...

  4. oh i so can feel your pain and frustration--not only with my special needs children, but a couple of my other kids----i hope he has a wonderful party!!

    1. What is so sad is that our older son has a couple respite workers who regularly come into the home. We love them. One even offered to come to the party--and our son would love it! Sigh.

      I'm just thankful that it won't come to that. I'm thankful that he has a couple age appropriate peers to attend, And, who doesn't love an amusement park?

      Thanks for reading and for understanding.

  5. Three is a good number. That's containable, that's not overwhelming. They did make you work for it, haha! Can't wait to hear how it goes. I did Chuck-E-Cheese once...still recovering, in fact I need a cocktail (like choppers in Nam).