Sunday, 9 December 2012

I Guess It Was Inevitable

Today was Nate's 3rd birthday.  I'll be honest, last year, our family was in such a state that I literally cancelled Nate's 2nd birthday party, made it close family only.  So I guess I felt the need to make up for that on some level, even though I know he's not really aware that he missed anything.  At the same time, he would not enjoy a "big" party- he would be overwhelmed, overstimulated, and would be likely to have a meltdown.  I was a bit disappointed that several of our friends were not able to make it initially, but in the end I think it was for the best.  I would say that Nate was a bit overstimulated even with a smaller party.

I was finally able to pinpoint something that Nate really loves this year- so I took the idea and ran with it.  Really simple- balloons!  They were EVERYWHERE.  And Nate noticed right away this morning- I started hanging these balloon banners that I made and his eyes got so big. I really do feel like he knew that today was "about him", although he doesn't understand the whole birthday concept.  One thing that made me really proud this morning- big brother Jack gave Nate his gift, helped him open it, told him happy birthday and hugged him.  And Nate noticed the gift- a duck and goose book and stuffed duck and goose.  I have been working with Jack to help him understand a bit better the idea that he can give, he is not always going to be the receiver.  It's been a tough concept for him. 
The party went well, great group of people, all of whom really care about Natey and understand where he "is".  No surprised looks when he ran back and forth, collapsed on the floor, or stood on his head.  He did sneak to the treat table and snatch some stuff which tickled me- that meant he was paying attention to his surroundings.  I even took one of my first "risks" since the boys were diagnosed.  Nate has a little "buddy" from his old ABA class- which means they occasionally acknowledged each other's presence, and his mom and I have been in that Friday speech class together.  So I invited their family, which was a huge leap of faith for me.  Letting someone new into our lives- and I am so glad that I did.  They are new to the area, and have a special needs child, which must be a lonely place to be.  Such a nice family, and hopefully, some new friends.  Friends that understand fully what it's like to be raising our kids.  Jack did pretty well, other than a minor argument with a little girl over the Christmas tree lights- did great during the birthday song, as I had "tasked" him with helping Nate blow his candles out- not even a hint of a meltdown.  We did a simple craft, played with balloons (including those "punch" balloons- remember them?), and had cake.  It was a good time. 

and why wouldn't Jack wear his airplane tie???

So what was inevitable on what I would consider a good day?  Mommy's feelings, that's what.  I feel guilty about it.  I am happy that everyone had a good time, that there were no issues.  But it is milestones like today that make me realize what a huge amount of work we have to do.  When I see Nate next to his neurotypical peers, it's almost too much.  Jack may seem a bit quirky to me (most people don't even notice) in groups, but Nate just doesn't even live in the same neighborhood.  He spent about 80% of the party playing with ribbon that was used to tie up the balloons.  And he ate.  He acknowledged his little friend a few times and sat at the table with the other kids.  He even said a few phrases.  Of course he also showed off his new skill of knocking over our furniture- kid is strong.  I managed to smile the whole way through the party. 

After everyone left, we tried to sit down with my parents to have Nate open a gift or two.  He had ZERO interest.  Less than zero- he was annoyed by our intrusion.  He wanted the ribbon he had been playing with.  My parents are very good sports, and understand the situation, but it hurts to watch it.  I mean, what would a typical three year old do with a pile of presents?  Rip into them!  We tried to open about 4 gifts today- the only thing he played with was this stuffed mouse that came with one of his toys- it has a long dangly tail so he could swing it around.  I did it.  I broke down.  I left the room, and I made it until everyone, even my parents, had left.  I had a good cry.  I am proud that he is three.  I am proud of how hard he has worked.  But I am sad.  And it's not going to go away.  It's so hard to watch him in his own little world in these circumstances, and feel so helpless to get through to him, to help him enjoy things that other children his age would adore.  He did not miss out today, not for him.  He enjoyed all of his day.  But as his mommy, I wish, well so many things, but most of all, today I wish he could have blown out his own candles and enjoyed his presents. 

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