you’re invited

The birthday party invitation sits on the kitchen counter.

You are invited!

Come to my house for Fun and Games!

I don’t take the invitation for granted. In and of itself, it stands as a triumph of sorts.

I remember when the invitations didn’t come.

Ever.

But so too, it taunts me.

Fun and Games!

At the birthday girl’s house.

Fun and Games may be the latter, but they’re almost never the former for my kid.

The invitation should read,

Come to my house for Fun and Games!

Check your insecurities at the door!

Bring Support, Facilitation and Patience galore!

Luau asks me the question over dinner.

“How do you want to handle Gabby’s party next week?”

I’m quiet. I’m not sure what to say.

She’s already RSVP’d. She’s excited to go.

The only question is which of us will take her.

What I want is not what I want to want.

I tell him that.

“I want to want to take her,” I say.

“I want to not be worried about it.

I want to believe that seeing her with all those other kids who just operate on a totally different plane from her won’t break me.”

I stare into my plate.

I know that if I look up I’ll have to acknowledge the toxic cloud of shame that I’ve created with my words.

I’ve just told my husband that I’m afraid to take my child to a birthday party.

Who says that?

“I get it,” he says. “Completely.”

And I know that he does.

Which makes it better.

And worse.

He leaves it in my hands.

We don’t make a decision.

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30 thoughts on “you’re invited

  1. I get it totally, too! You know I do. Brooke will handle it and she’ll be Brooke. You will handle it, too in what ever way you have to. She wants to go and she was invited. That’s huge.

    I love you,
    Mom

  2. I know there’s not one iota of advice I can give, but this is another post I can’t just close w/o chiming in. I think your mom hit the nail on the head. Quietly. In a non sensory overload kind of way, of course. :-)

  3. Your not the only one that had that exact same reaction to birthday party invites. I’m both upset and relieved when the invitations do not come home. The few that actually do we do go but I’m so nervous about. This year tho not a single invitation came home, not a single offer or respond to a request for a play date. I can’t wait for this school year to end!

  4. I get it, as many of us do. I don’t take my son to the parties (or soccer for that matter). My husband does. I seem to be a trigger…either because my anxieties make my kid more anxious (thereby ramping up his behavior issues) or I am a safe zone so he knows he can meltdown with me. Whatever the reason, we’ve decided to keep me out of the party loop. Which is fine. But it isn’t.

  5. It’s not about shame, it’s about self-preservation. Being front and center to witness the differences in a purely social setting is HARD. What is taken for granted at home is instantly and obviously in your face at social events and it breaks you, it just does, a little bit every time. There is no shame in a life well lived, and certainly not for you. Whatever you decide, it will be the right thing for you and for her.

  6. A lot of us feel like that,don’t feel ashamed! It has been next to impossible to predict how my boy will react at unfamiliar or public places these last few months.
    I totally get the mixed feelings as well

  7. My ASD kiddo surprised me this weekend… we spent over an hour, maybe even 2, in Planet Hollywood, which was playing music as loud as club music. She had a day out at Disney but lots of disappointment when things didn’t go her way. She didn’t have a meltdown, even after PH, just a little close-call there at the end of the day, on the way home, but no more than a typical 7 yr old (I imagine.)

    I hope Brooke surprises you the way my sweetie surprised me.

  8. There’s no shame in your reaction. I’m pretty sure we’ve ALL been there. As many of others have said, the invitation is progress. The fact that she wants to go? MAJOR progress. I remember dreading the few parties our son was invited to so much. And being so happy the first time he ate a cupcake that … Because it meant he wouldn’t stand out quite so much at parties. Hang in there. No matter what you decide you will manage to find the positives that come from this.

  9. This is why my husband takes my son to baseball and I don’t. It takes a lot of mental energy just to deal with the day to day – the therapy, the school, language, social skills, teaching independence. I want him to learn and have fun but it hurts to watch sometimes. The contrast between him and his peers is right there staring me in the face at baseball. When I do go, I remind myself that we’re a family outside the box. Our goals are different, our successes too. Helps a little. But not, 100%. I guess I just want to say it’s normal for all of us to feel this.

  10. It difficult to “expand our Kansas” sometimes. That includes us parents. It hurts to see our kids having such a painful time at something that other kids just do naturally~seeing those glaring differences hurts too! But we know too that if we don’t push (or nudge) those boundries of “Kansas” our kids’ worlds becomes exponentially smaller. (“Kansas” is a term used by Aaron Likens, a man with Asperger syndrome, to define his comfort zone-our family has adopted this idea and we use the term often). (((Hugs))) for you, Jess! ~Chameleon

  11. At least she’s not threatening to ruin it, as my son does. He says he’ll smash the cake, take the presents, and generally “wreck ev-ry-THINNNNGGG!” Ahem. So. Do I fault you for your feelings? Not one iota my dear.

  12. I totally get your fear! I am happy, but also terrified every time either of my kids gets invited to a party ( my 5 yr old has a peanut allergy and my 3 yr old is on the spectrum). I took them both to their first friend birthday by myself, an hour from our house. I was pleasantly surprised! Besides a little expected stimming, my son did great and seemed to really enjoy himself. I ran around like a crazy woman to redirect him and facilitate social interactions but he DID it, and I was never so proud! All the stress was worth it to see him say hi, and say his friends name! (he is nonverbal ). Is every excursion a good one? No way! But we never know until we try, and I feel I owe it to him to give him the opportunity to succeed. Every little victory is so big for him and us. He surprises me all the time! And if it doesn’t work out- at least they know you are there to work through it.

  13. My daughter received a birthday invite last week as well. The second one this year. She was so excited when it came in the mail, and I shared in that excitement. Even knowing that last year, at this same party, she had a giant meltdown when it was time to get out of the pool. Even remembering how I felt as I tried to coax her out of the water, when all the other kids readily got out and joined in the other party activities. But, eventually, I got her out, we got through the meltdown, and we marched on. I could focus on the parts that weren’t so wonderful, OR I could make a choice to focus on the fact that my girl is excited to go to this party, and that she has someone who wants her there. Regardless what happens, it isn’t my place to feel shame or guilt or embarrassment. It is my child’s place to be who she is, and whatever that looks like is OK. I want her to know that I am happy for her. I want her to feel my excitement and positive energy. Going into things always fearing worst case scenario is no way to live, and my child doesn’t deserve me to do that, either. Just share in the joy of the moment. It doesn’t matter how long the moment lasts. Be positive, have a plan, and let her be Brooke. And don’t feel badly about what that might mean. Focus on the fact that she is excited to go. Play off that. Support that. Be positive. Find the wonderful parts of the day, and maybe she will surprise you : )

  14. I get it, too. I take my son to the parties…the few that he’s been invited to, anyway. I’m always prepping for the worst, but hoping for the best. The last 2 times I was pleasantly surprised. I hope you are, too.

  15. if your gut says “don’t go” then give her options: the birthday party, or some other activity at the same..something that could function as a nice treat that she would enjoy. if she chooses the birthday party over that, then it’s okay, but if she would rather try the other activity, might work out nicely. good luck with this, i know it’s an agonizing choice.

  16. Hey Jess…we’re not there yet. I could say be thankful for Brooke being invited….but that doesn’t take the sting away. I know what you’re facing. I feel it every time we go to the park, or anywhere where there are typical kids. The worry never ends. The hurt doesn’t either. But remember when her going wasn’t even an option?

  17. The invitation alone sent shivers down my spine. I knew where you were going before you said it, because I’ve been there (and continue to be) countless times.

    We do what we have to do.

    And yes, that she wants to go? Huge.

  18. We are about to take a trip to Washington, DC, and my kids will be seeing their uncle (my only sibling) for the first time in 8 years…last time was the week my youngest was born. He is career Air Force, and it has been impossible to connect with him over the years as he moves all over the country and world…while we simultaneously deal with our own moves across country and back…and, of course, our “other” issues X’s two. We are going to be attending his ceremony at the Pentagon while he receives his commission of Colonel in the US Air Force. Um, 12 hours drive-time alone (with lots of car sickness), chaotic Washington traffic, staying in a strange place, taking the Metro to the Pentagon, walking a lonnnggg distance to the one door we can enter…at the exact moment my brother enters it, seeing my parents for the first time in a year, and all of us needing to behave during a very serious ceremony…no pressure, no stress, no worry…sarcasm, of course. I am doing this for TOTALLY selfish reasons. I cannot endure one more deployment without seeing him. This is a really significant moment in HIS life. He is my little brother…my only sibling. For crying out loud, I have put him low on the priority list for a really long time. So, we are throwing caution to the wind, and, come what may, we are going for it. If you see us on the news, just nod in understanding. ;)

    • Oh, and, um, I am really proud of myself that I never used the words dread, anxiety attack, or totallyl negative anticipation in my post.

  19. I feel shame for the birthday parties we did not got to which I never told my boy about – I knew he would want to go and I knew it would be very difficult. I could not face it at the time…..

  20. As you can see, so many of us have been there! I have viewed the (somewhat limited) invitations my son has received with joy mixed with a bit of dread…and most of the dread feels very self-centered, because it involves how I will feel seeing my son interact or not interact with his peers. I think we all work hard to choose not to compare our kids to typical children, and opportunities like this provide also the unwelcome opportunity to slip into “pity party land.” You are SO not alone. I’ve been there!

  21. Dear Fragile Mama,
    I get it too. This exact conversation has taken place at our kitchen table. Shame & guilt -check.
    If you decide to go, you will not break. Each of us has a stake in you. Draw on it. Breathe it in.
    You are strong on your own…..unbreakable with your community supporting you.

  22. I feel shame for all the parties I just ignore and do not tell him about. I am the one that can not handle the anxiety of what might happen. I need my son’s strength.

  23. Congrats to Brooke! This is HUGE, I mean, she WANTS to go.. :) She will be fine with whoever takes her, and sometimes it’s just ok to say it’s ok to let L take her. I know they say social clues aren’t strong points, but they pick up more than we think. If you are anxious she will get it, it will make her anxious. It’s ok to say no, especially since L can take her. So, no guilt allowed.

  24. Like most here we dont get many party invites and the few we(he) do get are to friends of the family. But I can honestly say I never feel more alone than I do at a childs party.

  25. Go, go, go. We also worry and agonize about what may (or may not) happen behavior-wise at these things, but the fact that she was invited was meaningful. Someone invited her to a party! Even the bad parties are better than not being invited at all – especially when other kids are. If you’re worried, you could set an “early exit” expectation both with Brooke and the parents (make up an excuse that you may have to leave early because of something else going on that day). That way, if you sense things are getting overwhelming, you have an easy out without either making a scene or having Brooke be the reason for leaving. Conversely, if things are going well, you can just say ‘She was having so much fun I decided to blow the other thing off.’

  26. OMG Jess I felt the same way last December when my little guy had a B-day invite in his knapsack. I was happy and cringing at the same time. I decided to let the Mom know who was hosting the party about his ASD and that one of us would have to go too and she told me since the children were all 4 a lot of parents were going to hang out just in case etc. In the end even though my son didn’t do everything like everyone else I did get to see how many of his classmates really do like and love him and understand him. They encouraged him to do stuff when he looked like he wanted to participate and helped him always have a place with them at the tables. So DO GO…..you have a special little girl and I’m sure everyone else will see that too. *hugs*

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