Monday, September 5, 2011

Happy Birthday

Jonathan turned 4 a few weeks ago.  And while I mourn the realization that I no longer have a baby, Mike and I also lamented what to do for his birthday.  This year, Jonathan was invited to numerous birthday parties for his preschool friends.  And we went to as many as we could.  I can never say no to a party.  But also, I don't know how much longer Jonathan will get these invitations.  Jonathan has a hard time interacting with his peers, there is only so much another, say "typical kid," can take of being ignored when they say "Hi" to him.  So for now, we'll go to the parties, knowing he was invited because the whole class was invited. 

The first birthday party we went to was at an indoor playground.  Jonathan ran in with excitement.  5 minutes later, he had a look of horror on his face and was headed for the door.  It was too loud, too much going on, too much stimulation.  So we hung out by the door, while the other kids swung on the ropes, open gifts, and ran around.  (He did go to the table for cake.  I's cake!)  I was upset.  I think I came with the expectation that Jonathan would run around with his friends and I could nonchalantly chat with the other parent about celebrity gossip and when to sign the kids up for soccer.  I should have known better.  The party was a slap in my face that Jonathan was not like the other kids.  I've been working full-time, so it had been a while since I'd seen him with others.  We sat in the front, and another parent came up to me to see how we were doing.  I cried.  I couldn't help it.  I should have known better...don't put expectations on anything when it comes to Jonathan.

So with his own birthday coming, we were not sure if we should do an "invite all the preschoolers" party or just a more low-key cook-out with our friends.  Knowing that Jonathan would not open gifts in front of others, or probably even interact with his guests, we opted for the later.  But we did decide to get a bouncy castle.  Our backyard is huge and it would provide big distraction that our friends' kids could play in, and if Jonathan wanted to, he could play in.
  The result....BIG HIT.  The castle went up an hour before the party.  Jonathan got some one-on-one time in there.  When our friends arrived, with a handful of kids in tow, Jonathan would run out, play for a bit, and run back in to watch TV.  It was interaction on his terms.  No expectations.  Perfect.

We also had a birthday cake.  Mike picked it up before the cook-out started.  Jonathan saw it, and wanted some immediately.  I took the cake over to our neighbors, as it couldn't fit in the fridge.  Jonathan was upset.  He wanted the cake.  I carried him home to get ready after dropping the cake off next-door.  5 minutes later, I heard the front door slam, and saw Jonathan, fork in hand, headed to our neighbors.  That was determination! expectation, right?  I got the cake back, cut him a slice before anyone arrived, and he was happy.
We may not have sung "Happy Birthday" to him this year, but I don't think it really mattered.  Now the big dilemma is how to top a bouncy castle in your back-yard next year. 


  1. Beautiful post, Jen! Jonathan is such a cutie!!

  2. There is so much in our culture about celebrating birthdays. Especially children's birthdays. I was thinking about this while reading this post. The entire class is invited, gifts, cake, games, the whole shebang. In many ways his birthday party celebrated and honored him as a person- lower key, cake on demand (yes!) and allowing him to just be himself and be comfortable. Bravo Jenny on knowing your son and honoring the anniversary of his birth in a way perfectly suited to him! He is such a cutie!

  3. Thanks, ladies!

    @Mary - your comment made me smile. Thank you!