Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Birthday Party Blues

As David's social secretary, I sent his regrets in response to the most recent invite--the backyard birthday adventure celebrating a classmate's 6th birthday. I said that we were going to be out of town--or that David had a previous engagement--or that he was throwing out the opening pitch for the College World Series Championship game--I can't really remember.

The truth is that I didn't want to tell the truth, that birthday parties are hard on David, and by translation, also hard for me.

David and I just attended another classmate's party last week. I had been excited about this party. For a myriad of reasons, let's just say that the family of the birthday girl belongs to the group of people that "gets it" and I knew I could respond to the party without all of the usual disclaimers. Plus, this Mom had volunteered in David's classroom every week and I was somehow convinced that David would be delighted to see his classmates, as well as this volunteer Mom who spent countless hours working with David in small groups each week.

The party started with a lively game of parking lot tug-of-war. David even won that game, although I must say I was at an extreme disadvantage, what with trying to hold onto my purse, cell phone, car keys and birthday party present and still get some traction with my sandals on all the loose gravel in that parking lot. Plus, I realized that there was an exceptional view through the plate glass windows of the kids gym for all of the other parents to see me tugging on David's arm, trying to convince him simply to walk through the doors. I let go...gently...and not surprisingly David bolted for the car.

The next activity was an animated round of keep away. The birthday Mom, having already removed her shoes in adherence with the gym's "socks only" requirement, removed her socks and walked barefoot out into the aforementioned gravelly parking lot just to say "hello" to David. Apparently feeling unusually snarky, David locked the car door just as she was reaching for the handle to open it.

By now, I was embarassed and put the key in the ignition so that I could roll down David's window. She stuck her arm in the car, trying to convince David to give her a high five.

I could almost see the wheels turning as David considered whether or not to roll up his window, but used his better judgement and did not test the quickness of her reflexes--well, that and the fact that I was afraid and did not remove my own finger from the master "window down" button.

Not surprisingly, there were no high fives exchanged.

The final game was beat the clock, as David and I raced home just as the dark clouds of a thunderstorm were rolling in with the promise of heavy rains and high winds, perhaps the real reason for David's agitiation. We pulled into the garage just as the huge raindrops began to hit my windshield.

Three birthday party games and three victories for David.

So, the truth is that, while David may have had a most excellent time with the party games last week, I do not have the energy for the backyard birthday bash edition this weekend.


I have learned that while David might not always stay for the whole party, or participate in all the activities, we can make a splash by bringing a great present—idea, of course, supplied by my clever sister, Annie.

A movie theater gift card, packaged in a plastic popcorn container (found in the dollar section at Target), along with microwave popcorn and other movie-themed snacks.


  1. Thank goodness for the Friends who do "get it"! It feels so nice to know that if you have to turn around and leave an event immediately...they aren't going to take it personally!

  2. Lol. I loved the part about the windows. I can totally picture it. Birthday party's can be so stressful for kids with autism. Sometimes I try to get Parker to do things I know will be hard but its good to keep trying.