Bratty Kid: I want a bicycle.
Jeremy: Listen, a bicycle is going to take a lot of ball00ns and frankly, Uncle Jeremy is a bit tired. How about I make you something else?
Bratty Kid: I just want a bicycle!
Jeremy: Why… why are you yelling at me?
Bratty Kid: Make me a bicycle, clown!
Jeremy: All right, I’m going to make you a bicycle. But I don’t want to make you a bicycle.
Bratty Kid: Shut your mouth, funny guy, and make it.
Jeremy: Take that, you hyena, don’t say thank you.
~ Scene from Wedding Crashers
Did I ever tell you about the clowns? Well, not clowns really, but that’s how they ultimately came to be affectionately known in my house after the ‘incident’. As in, ‘Oh my God, are you checking on the clowns AGAIN?’ I assure you, I mean no disrespect. I happen to love clowns.
It was a chilly night last April. OK, I’m lying. I have no idea if it was chilly or not, but I kinda thought that sentence sounded neat. I live in New England. It was probably chilly. And rainy.
Anyway, I was poking around on WordPress. I like to check out the Referrers and see how people link into my blog. I find it fascinating (and sometimes a little creepy) to see how people end up here and to have some idea of who my readers are.
For example, last week I discovered that I’ve been listed as a resource on a website serving Australia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Phillippines and Pakistan. They describe Diary as words of encouragement for new families – how cool is that? I seriously have to wonder how let freedom ring translates into Vietnamese, but hey, still cool. Anyone linking in from CLAN, welcome!
Anyway, back on that evening in April and for a couple of days thereafter, I continued to get incoming links from a site called ball00n headquarters. I assumed it was some kind of Google search fluke and didn’t think much of it. But eventually, there were well over a hundred links from ball00n hq, so I decided to follow the link back to them and see what was going on.
What I found was a discussion group revolving around the post that I had written the day before. The website was apparently not protected or private in any way as I was able to see the whole thread simply by following the link. I wasn’t able to respond, however as I needed to be a member in order to do so. ( Note ~ Their posts are in italics, copied unedited; my commentary in between their posts is in bold lettering.)
Curious story I ran across. No it wasn’t my show.
the $240 ball00n animal (that wasn’t a monkey) redux
I am trying to figure out what the heck she is complaining about or if she is or
~ Innocent query: Hey guys, anyone know what the hell is this about? Fair enough, right?
I don’t think she’s complaining about the entertainer, or his fee, just at
her own foolishness at setting her autistic kid up for failure in that
environment. I bet she’d have been thrilled if her kid could have enjoyed
Big Joe’s show, but as it was, she couldn’t, and all she got out of it was a
-always ask about the b-day kid’s favorite things
-check on special needs of those present
-make sure the b-day kid has the best time, and if you can’t, do something
extra for just them, even if it means staying longer than you’re booked for.
~ Ooh, loving this lady. Preach on, girl. Yup, just a Mama who is ‘fessing up to having made some significant mistakes but who then did the best she could to make her kid’s birthday party work under some pretty challenging conditions for her kid. Right? RIGHT?
What this Mom is saying is that her little sissy girl needs to get
out from under her mothers dress and play with the rest of the world!
Don’t blame the Entertainer that her “little Princess” is just too
sensitive to “loud noises” like all her friends laughing, at what
sounds like a really good show!
Another classic example of a mother stiffling(sp?) their children
from enjoying and participating in Life. It’s all the Mom’s fault!
Like when you go to a table that has beeh watching you work, and
say “Hi what can I make for you?” and the mother shoo’s you away
with “oh, she’s afraid of ball00ns!”
The fact of the matter is the Mom’s afraid of ball00ns and now has
poisoned the kids too!
Let the kids be kids!!! Can you tell I don’t like these mothers?
~ Um, say whu?? Seriously? I .. um .. wow. Someone? Anyone? Beuller?
No she is not upset by the entertainer. Her daughter is autistic.
They planned this big party, the daughter wanted this entertainer
that was at her school. She got the first animal, but the party
proved to be too much for her condition. Parents had the party go on
without the bday girl – she wanted to stay upstairs.
~ At least somebody’s actually read what they’re commenting on. That will surely clear this all up, no? NO?
I guess I missed the autistic part, when I quickly scanned the blog.
But I can’t help but think that the mother is a bit over protective as well
~Dude? reeeeeeeally? I mean, reeeeally?
How? She let her kid pick the entertainer. She let her kid be the
center of the activity. She encouraged the kid to be part of things
even after getting scared. She did let the girl leave the party in
order to sit with her in a quiet space (something not at all unheard
of for an autistic child), but she had a house full of kids. Had she
forced her daughter to stay there, she would have had a real
disaster. This way, all of the other kids could enjoy themselves and
no one else got upset. I think the mom did a great job of trying to
provide what her daughter needed without forgetting about all the kids
in the house. And she still didn’t give up on her daughter. She gave
her all the opportunities/encouragement in the world to return to her
~I think I’m in love!
It doesn’t seem like the mother is complaining about the entertainer, just
complaining about the difficulties of living with autism.
However, the tone of the post sounds like she is surprised about the outcome
of the party, which doesn’t make sense to me. It doesn’t sound like the
mother prepared her child for what would happen at the party….especially
compared with all of the other preparation.
Kids with autism and many other disabilities often get used to routines.
While having the entertainer and lots of other kids at school is one thing,
have the same thing at home can be an entirely different scenario. It can be
really important for families to plan with their kid on what kinds of
options the kid could have if the situation gets overwhelming.
The parent knows the child best and she could have done a lot more things to
make sure that her kid had a good time:
-Informed the entertainer ahead of time that her daughter would want a
-Let the entertainer know that the child has sound sensitivies–you don’t
need to be loud to have fun!
-Have prepared an “escape” plan with her daughter—What the daughter could
do if the situation got overwhelming, perhaps the daughter could have even
stayed in the same room…like she could have a special bean bag to sit in,
or a blanket to get under or some other comforting activity or place.
-Do a run through with the kid so she’d know what to expect, that can be
huge with autistic kids!
-Know that even if things go “wrong” that it isn’t a disaster. The kid has a
new experience, it sounds like she was able to build on it for the following
year and all of the other guests had a good time.
She also did a lot of things right: She recognized her kids triggers,
comforted the child and didn’t let it interfere with the good times of the
As entertainers there are questions we could ask to make sure that kids with
disabilities have a good time…that is, if we are informed of the situation
in the first place! Some of the suggestions above, like spending extra
one-on-one time can be huge. A kid with special needs might not want to be
in a skit….but they also might just need a different way to be on stage!
Hopefully a parent would let you know about this ahead of time!
~ OK, this lady’s on her game. I did actually do most of the things on her list of what I ‘could have done’ (not the least of which was a long conversation with Joe ahead of time detailing Brooke’s challenges), but no matter, she’s thought this through and she makes some excellent points. I should not have been surprised by the outcome of the party. And you know, she’s right, if things go ‘wrong’ it isn’t a disaster. But it can be really hard to see that in the moment.
Sounds to me like the mother of an autistic child sharing her
experiences, and the folly of ‘best’ laid plans. Nothing sounds like a
complaint against “Big Joe”. She noted how much the other kids enjoyed
Other than trying to have a party like the other kids have, but with a
child not able to cope with every situation like the other kids, the
mother’s reaction seemed very much in tune with what I would expect of
a parent in that situation, having spent years working with children
with various special needs, including Autism.
I have done a party for Autistic twins; I did get to meet ONE of them;
the other never left his room.
But, yeah, we’ve all probably had the parent who has irrational fears
of ball00ns transfer the ‘blame’ to the kids. That’s life. Thankfully,
most just grin (or is that a grimace?) and bear it for the benefit of
the children. All part of the parenting life. :-)
~ This guys is a bridge builder. I’ll buy into that.
Sounds like mom did the right thing. Unfortunately know really knows
how special needs children (or adults) will react. I think she was
just frustrated that her child couldn’t enjoy what was to be a
special day for her.
This story has taught me, though, as an entertainer to now ALWAYS ask
if there will be any special needs children at the event so that I
can adjust my performance accordingly.
I have performed for many special needs people in the past, but in
each case, mom or the event coordinator, let me know up fron that
there may be a problem. One of my highlights was having a blind
child help me onstage in front of everybody, and turning that child
into a hero!
~ Oh my God, ‘this story has taught me’! How cool is THAT? This ridiculous situation has actually turned into something positive! The power of blogging! Who on God’s green earth would think that this story would have reached someone who could learn from it? Sweet!
This went on for a while with mostly innocuous comments following the ones I’ve printed here. I’d almost gotten bored with obsessively checking to see what they were saying. Almost. And then there was one last entry that seemed to finally quiet the storm and send these folks onto their next victim. Thank God.
She is not complaining. The blog is “Diary of a Mom” and is the
shared emotions of a mother with a child that has Autism– “I pass
another mom whose husband is walking her son around the neighborhood
because he too had to escape the room. She sees my red eyes and
quietly says, ‘This is what we do.’ I feel better. And worse.”
This is the public display of the private feelings of a mom trying to
cope. If you go back to read some of the other posts this mother
made, you will find days of Joy, Anger, Shock, and some of Wonder.
It is a diary and it is what it is.
~ ‘It is a diary and it is what it is’. Words to live by.
A – friggin – men.
ed notes ~ Luau was opposed to my posting this, which is fair enough considering that he had to live with the fallout of the first tango. In deference to his opposition, I changed all the ‘oo’s in bal00ns to zeroes. Hopefully that will help prevent triggering a red alert at ball00n headquarters this time. When I asked for a trusted friend’s opinion, she wisely suggested that I de-snark some of my snarkier comments. I did. Mostly. But I decided to go ahead and post this for a reason.
I think it’s important to clearly see how we can be perceived. To know where more work needs to be done and to understand that we may indeed look like overprotective helicopter parents to some who don’t get it.
I also thought that some of these folks made some really valid points. That for our kids, parties (and a host of other things) are not necessarily going to look the way we might have thought or hoped that they would. That that is OK. That despite our best laid plans, we may need to make adjustments on the fly. That even when we let our kids take the lead, we still have to parent them. The party was all of Brooke’s design, but it was my responsibility as her mom to structure it in a way that would actually work for her. That to some people, the word ‘autism’ offers no explanation whatsoever.
I think those are good things to know, so I thought I’d share them.
And I’d like to thank those who posted them in the first place.