Last year I was humbled and so surprised when Boo was invited to another child’s birthday party. I remember writing that she was included, that the children in her classroom see Boo and not a child with a disability. But I worried that she wasn’t really a peer. It ended up being a moot point, as we were unable to attend the party due to a family commitment.
At that time a friend wrote to me and said it so wonderfully that just that day her children, both of them, proclaimed Boo to be their friend. That in children’s minds they are all peers. It really is just us adults that make the mistake of thinking otherwise.
I have remembered those kind words. You see, Boo was invited to another birthday party. Yes, I was kind of worried and spoke to the mom (who is also Boo’s therapist at school) but those words kept coming back to me. I decided to be honest and let her know my fear. That we wanted to attend, but I didn’t want her daughter to be disappointed when Boo, well is Boo. The party was being held at a gymnastics center, there would be obstacles and activities that she just wouldn’t understand. She might become overwhelmed or disruptive. I honestly didn’t want Boo to detract from another little girl’s first ‘for real’ birthday party.
Thankfully, the mom completely understood and reassured me that all would be fine. I’m sure it helped that she works with Boo a couple times a week! We went and Boo had a great time. Sure, she didn’t participate like the other children. The teenagers running the party had to pay her more attention. They were accepting and kind. I only had to rescue her twice when she got overwhelmed. The older children attending the party made sure she was safe and the youngers ones just ran around her.
But she had fun! She ran around the obstacle course in her own manner. She ate her cupcake (and tried to eat the child’s next to hers). She watched her friend open presents (and tried to steal them). She squealed at the Princess goody cup and stickers. She proclaimed HAPPY DAY and HAPPY CAKE to her friend.
She was a typical kid having fun at a birthday party. And just like that typical kid, she barely stayed awake for the ride home!
I am so thankful that last year a kind friend planted the seed: that adults see the disability not the children. I realized as I was writing this post that four years ago I never imagined this day. THIS day that Boo would be invited to a party not because of inclusion but because of friendship.
A happy day indeed.