I took my little gang to a birthday party today. J turned 5 and so his lovely ma & pa invited a few of his friends from ‘school’ over to share in the celebrations. The last kids birthday party we went to was about 12 months ago and was not a wild success with my little darling pushing the birthday boy (recently out of hospital) down the back stairs. I saw it all happen from a short distance away and it was like a slow motion car crash that you could do nothing to stop. Lucky there was no major damage and after profuse apologies and a lot of sighing from me, we left shortly after.
So today I took a moment to reflect on how things have progressed over the last year. When we arrived, L was able to participate in saying hi and in handing over the birthday present. Then he proceeded to play, with distant supervision, on the bouncing castle, keeping his hands to himself and not worrying if there were other bigger, noisy kids in the same space.
It was sweltering hot today so having three little boys to manage was not going to keep me out of the water, no matter what. When we moved into the pool area, I took a deep breath – N (21 months) loves the water and would happily walk straight into the deep end. L has been having one on one swimming lessons for a year, so he has some basic water skills plus he is a bit more wary of the water. I was hoping the baby would have a bottle and go to sleep – which he did. I was in the water so fast and N was beyond happy. L circled the edge, not keen to get in, but wanting to be close to me. He eventually made it in and after an initial bout of tears, settled in and had some fun.
All the families at the party have at least one child on the spectrum – so everyone was managing their kids in their own ways and generally having a lovely time. I’m used to getting lots of funny looks about the noisemaking or the lack of language or the dummy on a chain obsession, but there was none of that feeling of being observed today. I think everyone felt that extra level of relaxation and acceptance.
So we had a lot of fun (no party games, no treat bags), N didn’t drown, we ate cake (green dinosoar chocolate) and J had a lot of fun at his party. We got home exhausted, had an early dinner and now blissful, deserved sleep for my little crew. Twelve months can certainly make a big difference.