This one is for you buddy. I’m your biggest fan.
Liam’s birthday is in April. It’s April 2, 2008. (Coincidently, the first worldwide Autism Awareness Day) His first birthday, like many, many other first birthdays, was a big deal. I went nuts with it. I had extra money to spend, so everything was planned and as exciting as I could make it. I mean, after all, they’re a whole one year old, they’re ready for big parties, right? 😉
We had a Teddy Bear Picnic–
Oh, what I didn’t know….
As things developed, or should I say regressed?… As it became obvious Liam was delayed and struggling, events became harder. All events became harder. It wasn’t just doctor’s appointments and daily living, we gave up a lot of traditions for the sake of survival. I struggled with letting go of holiday traditions, and the birthday….
I wouldn’t give up the birthday. I scaled back. I made accommodations…Here’s birthday number two in my mom’s kitchen…
By the third birthday, we were deep in the autism world, had gone gluten and casein free, and everything was a struggle. He was much like a little cave man. It was his way or no way– meltdowns, tantrums, bolting, on and on it went. We were isolated, and birthdays were a small family event, at best.
Birthday Cake 3– I’m not cake maker ;-P
Fast forward to last year, he turned five. It had been five years! Five years of joys, trials, triumphs, struggles, big milestones! I wanted to have a friend party– a party to invite some of his friends from preschool. I mean, he’d been in preschool for two years, same classroom, many of the same kids. He had friends, right?
I started planning, much like I did his first birthday. I obsess about projects. We were going to have a horse party. Complete with stick horses I was going to make as party favors. I sent out the invitations…..I waited…..and waited….and waited…..No one responded. Not one person said they would come.
I was heartbroken. I don’t know why we get so worked up about traditions and things like this. I suppose it was the friend thing. Did my son not have any friends? Did no one want to come to his party? I was so upset by it, but once again backed off. I made a Mickey Mouse cake to send for a class party, and that was his friend party– his fifth birthday. I was a little angry, I think. Maybe just hurt, but I remember feeling some anger. I almost resented sending anything to school at all. But, it was for him, and for him, I’d do anything.
I shed a lot of tears about the fifth one. I was heartbroken for him– not to have any friends. I heard about other children in his class having parties, and it dawned on me…he didn’t get invites to parties either. No one wanted us there? How could that be? Don’t they know how awesome he is, or how much fun he can be? He’s the life of the party, until you piss him off– he’s the LIFE of the party. But, no, we didn’t get invited, and no one came.
This year, I am EXCITED for my guy! He is at a new school– a school for children with autism. He has a couple of friends, and while his birthday is still a few months away, I am hopeful, and my wheels are turning. I want him to have that special moment. Maybe I want it for him because it was so important to me when I was a kid. Either way, this year, we are going to celebrate. We’re going to celebrate all six years of this journey, and my fingers are crossed, some friends show up….