Thursday, May 20, 2010

Birthday Season

Summer is almost here....that means "birthday season" at our house since 3 of my 4 children have summer birthdays. My problem with the older boys' birthday parties has always been keeping the guest list to a manageable size - there's the neighborhood friends, the school friends, the sports team friends. And there's always the conundrum of "If we invite that kid, then we have to invite those two..." You get the idea. Let me put it this way: this past March Isaac had a sleepover with FIFTEEN boys for his 10th birthday and there were still a few kids we kind of overlooked. (Note to self: never have a sleepover with 15 ten-year-old boys again!)

However, this is a problem I would LOVE to have with Alex. Because with him, the problem is exactly the opposite. He is six and has NEVER had a "real" birthday party with friends from school. We have had parties with family members of course, even at Chuck E. Cheese. But he really doesn't have friends like my other kids do. Part of the problem is his August birthday. August is a bad month for birthday parties b/c so many people are out of town or just out of their routines. And you can't send invitations to school. We have had bad luck with Ben's summer parties in the past. And there just aren't any kids who I KNOW will come because he doesn't have a best friend or a reliable friend. The kids in our neighborhood are all older or younger than Alex by at least 3 years so he doesn't have the "instant playdates" my other kids have always had. Because of his social issues, he doesn't make friends easily and doesn't get invited to parties very often himself. I am stressing ALREADY about his birthday this year because he will be SEVEN and he really needs to have a REAL party. I feel so guilty and bad that he hasn't had one yet. I just am at a loss as to how you have a party for a kid who doesn't have friends. This is the saddest part (to me) of having a child with special needs. I can handle the meltdowns, the difficulties with staying still, the language problems, etc. It is watching my child miss out on childhood friendships that is the most heartbreaking part. (Note to self: I need to schedule more playdates for Alex. The few we have had have not gone well...the kid always ends up playing with Sara.)


  1. Gosh I sooooo know what you mean
    I am also always chastising myself on doing more playdates
    You know I finally had to abandon all my preconceived notions of what a birthday party is and we finally got it right this year his 5th birthday
    I wrote about it here

  2. I hear what you're saying - my son is only 4yrs old but birthday parties are a constant source of stress for us. He's been invited to many during the school year (by way of bulk invitations in the backpack) but for his party this year I invited friends of ours with kids that he knows (only one is his age) and my cousin's kids, and kept it small.
    What my friend has done for her HFA 9 yr old's birthdays is instead of having a party, she asks him each year to pick a special place and the whole family goes together for his special day. One year it was the Museum of Science, another year it was something else...
    I think with kiddos like ours sometimes we have to take a step back and re-evaluate the whole "birthday party" thing. As much as I want a regular party for my son, I know he couldn't handle 20 kids at a playspace, opening 20 presents and surrounded by food he can't eat. Sometimes we have to take our lead from them. Good luck to you with the planning!

  3. My son had a friend who has an August birthday and although he was the type of kid who had plenty of friends, the typical birthday party was non existent for him because of the time of year.

    It's always hard when our kids can't have something we want them to have. Just recently my now grown son experienced the "I have no friends" sadness when his girlfriend and I had planned a surprise party for him to which most of the invited guests did not show, even though they'd said they were. I think part of our mistake was that I didn't do the inviting and had I done so it would have been more difficult for these young adults to sluff off their commitment to show up.

    Ultimately my son and the couple of friends that showed had a really good time, had more food to eat than they could handle (rare for growing young men) and we all got over the disappointment of our unmet expectations but it served as a reminder to appreciate quality over quantity, something I've being trying to teach my "normal" kid who's felt he's lacked in the friends department his whole life.

    Also, as I recall, those big, multi school friend birthday parties mostly cost too much, my son was always inevitably under the weather, and they always seemed to bring out the worst in him. This bossy, unappreciative, sulky boy I rarely experienced would always appear at some point during the day. Those parties were never all they were cracked up to be and we always enjoyed the family parties much more.