Another Birthday Party Post? Yes, Yes It Is…

by J

And Mommy needs a drink.

I had planned to post this week about our recent troubles involving hygiene, but amazingly, the fact that our child is snubbing all things hygiene related is not the most distressing thing in our lives. Stay tuned next week for fun with  stinky.

Yesterday, we attended someone’s 2nd birthday party… in their home. (I’m still twitching.)

While one would think that taking your two and a half year old to someone’s birthday party sounds like a lot of fun, I couldn’t help but think back to the last time we went to someone’s home for a party. You might remember those fun times from this post.

We had never been to this particular friend’s house before, so I felt it extra prudent to prepare S as much as possible before we went. I looked up social stories, about going to a birthday party, online. (I found, and used, some great ones here.) We talked about how we would go to someone’s house and that there would be lots of people there. I showed him the pictures of kids and we sang happy birthday and talked about how the birthday boy would blow out his candles. I knew the mom was making cupcakes, so I told S how he could eat a cupcake just like The Very Hungry Caterpillar. He seemed excited and eager to go.

Then, I drew pictures. Yes, *I* drew pictures. (I will try to post it later for your entertainment.) S knew exactly what they were. I drew a house and inside the house were a bunch of people. Then, I drew Mommy and S going into the house with a bunch of people. I drew snacks, toys and a cupcake with candles. He seemed stoked.

Before we left, I took him out to play so that he could run off some steam and get in some jumps. Once we arrived at the party, I took out my drawing again and we went over about the house, the people, the kids, the toys, the snacks. He was pumped. He was ready to go. He wanted his “pack pack” (back pack), no need for his skateboard… he was going to a party. He was excited. I thought, “I did it! He is going to have fun. This is going to be great”.

Then, we entered the house. Well, not entirely.

We quite literally had not gotten completely in the door… like, the door was still being held open for us to finish entering, when all hell broke loose. Kicking, screaming, screeching. The person who answered the door was finally able to get it closed before S could start scratching and banging on it screaming “Go back outside!!!!!!”.

I knew ONE person at this party. ONE. I had no time to introduce myself before I had to ask for a quiet place to retreat and we were shown the steps to the basement family room. Apparently, no amount of preparation was sufficient to take S to a kid’s birthday party. None. I knew that he is capable of having fun though, so I wanted to give him the chance. I knew that if we could just get past this initial outburst, he could have a good time.

We spent about 30 mins on the basement stairwell… with him screaming.  When I finally got him to calm down, we spent another 15 mins with me singing songs on the steps. He was having a seemingly fine time, cowered in the corner, pressed against the door, listening to the party on the other side, while having mommy sing him songs. I even had to sing “Happy Birthday” to the birthday boy. Yes folks, we sat on steps, behind a closed door, and sang “Happy Birthday”. Every time I would try to coax him out, he would insist “Stay back here”.

After about 45 mins of sitting in this stairwell, I managed to open the door. He ran immediately out and across the hall to the bathroom, and held up in there screaming for a few minutes.

Finally, roughly an hour after our arrival, I admit defeat. I pack up my screaming child, said goodbye to the people we had yet to meet, thanked our hostess for the invite, apologized for the outburst, and left.

No sooner did the door close behind us did S demand “GO BACK INSIDE PARTY!!!!!!!”.

Not fucking kidding.

And so, back inside we went. We stayed, and he played, for two hours. And then when we left, he cried because he didn’t want to go. I have no idea what to make of this.

I know this though… It was everything in me to not bust into tears the entire time we were there. My eyes stung for hours. This wasn’t like the bouncy house, where S was having a great time, just in his own little way. This was roughly an hour of a panicked meltdown that my child had to go through in order to have fun at a birthday party. Why should my kid have to go through this? What can I do to make this easier for him? And, why don’t they serve hard drinks at kid’s birthday parties?

I sat and watched all of the other children play and have a great time- they were mostly all much younger than S and the difference in social development was striking. Why does my child have to struggle? It was just so heartbreaking.

It’s not fair. I just wanted to take my ball and go home.

Then, we got home. S went on and on about how much fun he had at the birthday party. He recounted all of the fun things he did and seemed oblivious to the hour long stand-off on the stairwell. I’m so glad that he only seems to remember the fun he had; I just wish that the fun was the only part of the story. When it was time for bed, we went through the bath time refusal and I put my stinky, sweaty, haven’t-washed-his-hair-since-September, kid to bed. And, as I held him down so that he could stop flopping around like a fish out of water, he rambled about the party, and the people, and the cupcakes and then calmed while I cried and he drifted off to sleep.

We have two more birthday parties coming up in the next few weeks. I plan to take him, since after all, he has a blast once he warms up. It’s just getting him warm that worries me. What can I do? Why does it have to be this hard? Why can’t my little boy just eat cupcakes and play games and have fun? Why does he have to go through this and why can’t he tell me what would help him?

I usually try to tie up these posts with what I have learned, or my positive spin on the situation. But honestly, I’m at a loss. My heart breaks for my little man. I know he needs help and I have no idea what to do to help him. So, if anyone else has any positive spins, suggestions or a great lesson that I can take away from this… lay it on me. Because right now, I feel like holding up in a stairwell and crying for an hour; and quite frankly, there has to be a better solution.