Kiddo loves birthday parties. Loves them. He gets excited about candles and cake, balloons and bouncy castles (in his head every party has a bouncy castle). We are very lucky to get invites to a few parties still. Kiddo is going to be 5 in a few months and the flood of invites from friends at toddler group and pre school are starting to dwindle. It’s totally understandable and I was predicting it. After all, the older kiddo gets the harder he finds it to socially engage with other children. Their language has improved, their social understanding has improved and they have sprinted out in front of kiddo and he is just watching them run away into the distance. And the worst thing? He knows. He knows he isn’t like other children, I can see it in his eyes. But he wants to be.
As children get older a parent will ask “who would you like at your birthday party?”. Kiddo’s name won’t even come into it. And rightly so, after all we don’t see them anymore. There’s no planned weekly meet up once they are at school. Not one he can cope with any way. The locations are far too loud and busy. So his pre school friends don’t see him. He ceases to exist in their minds. It’s understandable, but boy does it hurt.
Most of the invites we receive for birthday parties are from parents who truly understand our situation and that I am able to stay in contact with during the week as they (like me) are unable to work due to caring for their child. So school hours house all our social commitments and usually involve blurry eyed conversations over cups of coffee on someone’s sofa. A lot of parents I used to spend time with now have both children in school and are back to work. They see other families and friends at the weekends but for us it is just not possible. Because kiddo barely leaves his room at the weekend.
A week at school zaps every last drop of social energy he is able to produce. He is exhausted and he has little or no control over his behaviours around others. He needs to recharge for the week ahead. Of course he sees other children in his class during the week, but many of their parents I never see or have never met as their children come to school by bus. They all have complex needs and a birthday party is often way too much for them.
So I hope and pray that those people who understand how tough it is, and how isolated we are from other families, will RSVP a big fat yes to kiddo’s party invite. Because he knows. He sees the balloons and cake, and then he sees his name. And he puts it together. It’s his birthday. I don’t want my child growing up with no memories of childhood birthday parties. It’s part of life, and above all he enjoys them. But to make this happen I need people who are willing to put themselves out and explain to their own children that they used to know kiddo before they started school. That kiddo isn’t in their class now because he goes to a different school. That he can’t go to the local theme park like they can. It’s all in the hands and the hearts of the parents.
We are so lucky. We have enough friends willing to hugely put themselves out for kiddo. People who haven’t seen us for a year or more are making the trip to show their love and support. I’m overcome with gratitude and love for every single one of them. They’ll never know just how much it means to me.
I’m not always a good friend, because I am always working hard at being a good mum. But once a year my heart reaches out to those who may (just may) be able to look past the lack of coffees or messages. That realise I’m often asleep by 6.30pm due to being up all night with kiddo and that I hate being cooped up at weekends, but we have no choice. I need you now to help make my son’s childhood complete. Can you help me?
Thanks for reading,