Monday, March 05, 2012

Birthday Party Success

Reece has asked to have a party on her birthday for the last couple of years, but I have always managed to be able to redirect her to something else. I was too worried to allow her to have one. Parties are hard for her and I was afraid she would have a meltdown at her own party and it would be awful for her and for everyone else. B But this year she would be turning 10, which is one of the "big birthdays" in our household and we like to go all out for the "big birthdays". One day while she was at ice skating, I saw that they offer birthday parties for a very reasonable cost. I showed it to her without really thinking, and she was so excited! So, from that moment, it appeared we'd be having an ice-skating birthday party.

The first order of business was to decide who to invite. The basic party included 6 children, including the birthday child, and I thought that would be a good place to start. To my surprise, Reece had no trouble deciding who she wanted to invite! She chose a long-time family friend, another long-time family friend who goes ice-skating with her quite a bit, a friend from our homeschool group, a friend from ballet class, and a friend from church! 

Right here let me diverge from my narrative for a moment to share with you how awesome it is that she chose these girls to invite to her party. I should back up for a moment and explain one of the experiences we had in RDI when Austin was around this age and our consultant talked to him about friends. Or maybe it was during his neuro-psych testing. Regardless, it was very obvious that Austin didn't know what "friend" meant. I don't remember the particulars anymore, but it did stick with me that my 10 year old son didn't understand friendship and what it meant to be and have a friend. So for Reece, at the same age, to be able to identify 5 girls that she wanted to have at her party, and to be able to articulate why they were her 'friends' was very special to me.

The invitations went out and the panic set it. What if nobody came? What if Reece saw these girls as friends but they didn't see Reece as a friend? Or not even that bad - what if everyone already had plans? This is a busy time of the year in Atlanta and most of the people we know have lots of siblings who have activities of their own. Our invitations went out late... what if folks simply couldn't make it. I knew her heart would be broken if nobody could come! We especially had a hard time with the invitation for the little girl at church because I didn't know who she was talking about, and neither did Russ. We took the invitation with us for two weeks waiting for Reece to point out the girl - who she had described as the "daughter of the lady who teaches my class" but that lady is grandmother age and we couldn't figure out who she was talking about. Finally, the Sunday before the party, we saw her at church (the grand-daughter of the lady who teaches the class so Reece was on the right track! LOL) and gave her the invitation with apologies for it being such late notice! To my very pleasant surprise, RSVPs came in and everyone was able to come to Reece's party!

Then the next set of panic took over. The noise at the skating rink is a problem. And this would be a Saturday afternoon when it would be busy - not the Friday morning when we usually go and it's virtually empty. And these girls all knew Reece from different places. With the exception of 2 girls, none of the others knew each other! They only knew Reece! How would she be able to handle making sure to spend time with each girl so she wouldn't feel left out? I really started to doubt the wisdom of this party. I spent a lot of time talking to her about including friends and making sure to give each of her guests special attention during the party. But I just wasn't sure how it would all play out in a setting that has such potential for sensory overload!

The day of the party arrived - we did have one cancellation for a family scheduling conflict, but the other 4 girls still came! Reece had been so excited all week and the morning of the party was no exception! I could tell you that she was bouncing off the walls, but that wouldn't begin to describe the level of excitement! Since 3 of the guests had never ice-skated before, we took along Daddy and Riley to assist with the skating. And I'm so glad we did. The two of them stayed with skaters until they got the hang of it, which every girl did by the end of the session! We were supposed to have had Reece's teacher there to give a lesson but she never showed up. I learned later that her child was sick, which I understand, but it would have been nice to have been informed by her or the staff at the skating rink. That was the ONLY negative thing for the whole party.

The girls skated for awhile, then had cake/ice cream/presents, and then went back to skate some more! It was an absolutely wonderful time. Reece handled taking care of her friends about as well as I could hope for, she was gracious with the presents, and she was gracious and thankful when the party was over! It was "Practically Perfect", to steal a line from Mary Poppins!

Here are a few pictures of Reece from her party! I don't want to include pics of the other girls since I don't have permission from their parents! :)

Happy 10th Birthday, Reece!! I'm so proud of the young lady you are becoming! :)


The Glasers said...

Reece has come such a long way. For any autistic child to have a birthday party that is practically perfect in every way is almost unheard of! You must be ecstatic, Jenn!

Niffercoo said...

Thanks, Tammy!! It was a wonderful day for all of us who love Reece! :)