Monday, March 15, 2010
Planning the Birthday Party
Aidan is turning 7 years old this month. I wavered back and forth about throwing him a party. I am just not really sure how the children in his class really perceive Aidan. Maybe they're thinking...how fun can a party for a kid in a wheelchair be? But, a friend convinced me that it would be a good thing to do to help develop his friendships with his classmates. She said the kinder year is the best time to foster those friendships. So...I decided to have the party. I planned for it to be at our HOA's clubhouse playground. Since the playground is mostly sandy, and wheelchairs just don't do well on sand, I've planned for a jumper with a slide so that Aidan could bounce and slide and enjoy as well. I'm also having a glitter tattoo artist. It's something different I think the kids will like. I invited Aidan's entire class - 20 kids and a few other non-school friends. The invitations went out and slowly, the RSVPs came in day after day and...to my surprise....nearly every kid in his class is coming to the party!? Since it's the Saturday start of Spring Break, I thought some families would be going out of town...But, about 75% of his class is coming??! I also tried to simplify things for parents by requesting, "No Gifts, Please." I kind of thought that since most of the parents probably have heard about Aidan from their children, they should know that his independent playing abilities are rather limited, so they wouldn't know what kind of toy would be an appropriate gift. Thus, I didn't want parents to worry about it. However, 2 very kind and thoughtful moms did email me and told me they really wanted to bring Aidan something and asked my advice on what would be appropriate. One mom told me that her son, who actually shares the same birthdate as Aidan, told her that my Aidan liked books. I told her that her son was absolutely right! I was a little blown away! I was surprised that her son had gotten to know Aidan well enough to know that he enjoyed books. Aidan's likes and dislikes can sometimes only be obvious to those that care to speak to him one-to-one. Although Aidan's smile is very telling and you can definitely see that from across the room. Or perhaps I am underestimating the kindness and perceptiveness of a 6 year old. However, I have seen her son interact with Aidan and he is definitely very sweet and kind. His mom and I exchanged several emails about jointly celebrating our sons' birthdays in the class. Apparently, her son knew that Aidan got all his nutrition in liquid form via his g-tube, however, she wondered if he might be able to enjoy a cupcake which is what she was planning to bring to celebrate the birthdays in class. I informed her that, like most kids, he enjoys the frosting...especially chocolate frosting. She seemed thrilled about bringing a chocolate cupcake for him to enjoy. I was really so happy that I had such a pleasant exchange with this other mom. Maybe we can find a place to fit in around here? But...now that all these kids and parents are coming to Aidan's birthday party, I am feeling a little pressure to make it great! So far...according to Ms. T, Aidan's party has been the talk of the class. All the kids are saying, "I wanna go to Aidan's party," "I'm gonna go to Aidan's party!" Even the kids in the classroom next door are hearing about it. I'm a little amazed that so many of the kids are coming. Maybe they just want to go to a party, any party...Maybe they or their parents are a little curious...Whatever it is, I have my fingers crossed that it'll turn out well! My secret hope is that maybe it will be that one thing, that one common experience that these kids will have with which to bond with Aidan, and that it will stay with them and link them as friends to carry on in their future school years. Am I hoping for too much?