Friday, February 15, 2013

Planning Birthday Parties

Alex's Mommy and Daddy (father and step-mom) were here the other day and Mommy wanted to talk to me about something. They had been talking about Sister's birthday parties, how many and where and who goes to which ones. They decided to have one here for with Alex so Alex could celebrate his sister's birthday with her. Ok, that's great.

Then she drops the bomb... Daddy wants to have a birthday party for Alex this year. out somewhere. a "normal" party. in a place like Chuck E. Cheese's or McDonald's. My immediate reaction was derisive laughter. I laughed at Mommy, told her Daddy was f*cking crazy! INSANE. I told her I hope he plans to do it himself and I wish him luck because I want no part of it. No way. There's no frickin way in hell I'm taking that child anywhere like that. That reaction seemed to have hurt Mommy's feelings because she was serious. He wants to do this and she told him they couldn't do it unless I was there to help. That made me feel mad and bad at the same time because on one hand, why do I have to be there to do the work with his son for a party he wants to throw but on the other... why not just go help?

I told her that's impossible! Not to mention stupid and selfish. This kind of party is not for Alex, it's for Daddy. This kind of party would be pure torture for Alex and me! Even when Mommy and Daddy bring Sister to visit Alex, Alex gets overwhelmed pretty quickly and has to take frequent breaks in his room. That's in his own home with people he loves. not out in a place that is not much other than a vicious assault on the senses.

not to mention, it's flat out dangerous for the small children who frequent such establishments considering they frown on adults climbing around in their play areas. he will hurt someone. We stay away from smaller kids that don't belong to us because the parents of smaller kids that don't belong to us get upset when we injure their babies. Mommy and Daddy don't even take him to their house because he's too hard to handle there! With just the 2 kids!

We go to empty playgrounds. We go to his school where there are no other kids, we go to the elementary and take advantage of the almost empty kindergarten playground and the wide open grassy areas to stay away from people.

Could you imagine what he would do in public, overcrowded, overstimulated, overwhelmed, with no immediate access to adults and no safe place to go calm down!? with practical strangers all up in his face wanting him to be socially acceptable and all "normal" child affectionate like? NO! I'm not doing it! If Daddy wants it, Daddy can do it. period.

and then the guilt set in. and the understanding that Alex has to try new things once in a while which means I have to take him to try new things once in a while because I am his safe place. Alex needs me to not leave his Daddy on his own to handle it because Daddy wouldn't be able to handle it and Alex needs the comfort and support of someone who knows.

We came to an agreement. a compromise. If Mommy can find a place to have a party that would be safe for Alex and would have only the kids he's comfortable with, we will have the party there. I googled the contact information for the closest BounceU. IF only a select few are invited, IF it's not too much on him, IF he's not expected to do more than he is comfortable with, IF he can enjoy his own party... I can live with that.

Well, yesterday, we went there. and we talked to a very nice lady. She takes us on a tour and the first thing I see is color. and I'm not just talking color. I mean color like KA-BLAM! In yo face! color. Yellows and purples and reds in the shades that make you want to curl into a fetal position with your eyes closed and whimper like a scared little puppy. She says they are in the process of painting. I'm in the process of a heart attack. based on color alone my instincts are screaming NO! She takes us into the first room and I breathe a sigh of relief. The walls are plain grey-blue. and they plan on keeping them that way. There are several bouncy things waiting to be blown up and it looks like Alex heaven. except that he's going to have to be encouraged to get up there and do his thing but that's cool. we can do that.

Then she says they will be in there for 30 minutes and transition to the next room. mhmm, "transition". and "transition" is not optional. Then after 30 minutes in that second bouncy room also with calm colors, they transition to the party room.

The colors in the hall are still bothering me and I am dreading the transitions, especially thinking of the combination of transition and color, but she assured me that they get tons (complete with the usual eyeroll and double handed gesture that turn tons into tons) of children with autism and they love it. (notice the italics? just making sure. because they sounded important.) So, Alex's Mommy went ahead and made the reservation.

It's only going to be the normal kids- Thing2, Walter, Alex, Goofy, The Little Dementor, The Tiniest Supervillain, the Sister, and the grandbaby. Kids who know him and what he needs, what he likes, and won't be offended if they are asked to jump somewhere else. Kids who won't be worried or upset if he runs into trouble during the party. No unfamiliar cousins or aunts or uncles that he doesn't know. No pressure to socialize. I'm thinking this won't be so bad. This might actually be very good. He might love it. I'm excited now. and I'm glad Mommy and Daddy pushed me to at least consider it.


  1. Wow. Wow times 1000. Your initial reaction was totally justified, but you're a frickin' hero to reconsider, compromise and adjust until an option was found. Again, I'm new here and I don't know much about Alex (or you, for that matter). But I really hope this works out. I hope this is step toward new, good things your Alex and your family.

  2. It is so hard to explain to others that the party is for the child and it is important that only their needs should be taken into consideration. We have done bowling because it is wonderful and loud and all of the kids are running after the ball down the alley. This year was the most successful although still only James's best friend from his autism school showed up. We invited 8 kids from his class and all of them declined for one reason or another. Worked out well because James had a blast!! Loved the Archery party!! May do it again next year. Good luck with the jumpie houses!! Sounds fun!!

  3. That sounds like a lot of fun. I hope Alex likes it! We did the Chuck E. Cheese and Macdonalds parties at least once. My son did okay. His favorite was the party at the ice skating rink. He wanted to have it there several times. And we don't ever ice skate. Go figure!

  4. We are wrestling with this ourselves. The Monkey won't notice if there is a party or not, but I feel like we should at least try something. Hope it works out well. Happy birthday to Alex regardless.