Other kids’ birthday parties: bah, humbug


We went to the birthday part of a friend’s kid this weekend. It was at a gym. Max had a great time at his sister Sabrina’s gym party, so I was hoping he’d like this, too. Only Max had his own ideas. He didn’t want to follow what all the other kids were doing. First, he kept trying to get on line with this group of older boys who were doing running back flips. I was psyched that Max wanted to be just like the big boys, but they snickered at him and the coach glared at us. I whisked Max away.

Max was up for jumping on the trampoline with the other kids in the birthday party, only I needed me to be on there with him because he can’t quite jump. “You can’t go on there,” one of the teachers said. “But he can’t jump,” I said. “He can’t jump?” she asked, incredulously. “No, he can’t, he’s got disabilities,” I said. “OK, but you still can’t jump with him,” she said. So she did it.

In the room where the kids had birthday cake, my husband fed Max. A lot of the kids stared—and so did their mothers. I was on my last nerve by this point. As Max walked out of the room, one of the mothers literally stared as he walked by and kept staring. I turned around and glared at her.

Birthday parties when Max was very young used to be a certain kind of hell. I’d look at all the kids his age running around while Max crawled and I’d be excruciatingly aware of how delayed he was. Sometimes, I’d bail on going because I couldn’t take it. These days, birthday parties can still be painful because they involve a bunch of the tough things you have to deal with when you have a child with special needs: the stares, the intolerance, the child who behaves so very differently than other kids.

As Max has gotten older, I’ve learned how to handle him (and my own expectations) in a variety of circumstances. But birthday parties, they still get to me.

Ellen blogs daily at Love That Max.


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