Monday, April 18, 2011

Yet Another Birthday Party Story

This time there are no tears of sadness, no venting, no frustration.  Just one happy mommy, eyes dampened from happiness and contentment, secure in the knowledge that her baby is growing up and has friends.  Yes, she's only 4, but what I witnessed on Saturday warmed my heart, and I think may have touched the hearts of some of the other mommies in attendance who shared the vision of my beautiful girl embraced by her schoolmates, guided and encouraged as one of their own.

The party was at one of the local "bouncy places."  I truly don't know what to call them - do you?  And what do you call the "bouncy things?"  I call them bouncy castles for lack of another term readily available.

Anyway...

One of Sammi's "typical" classmates turned 5.  I've heard her name mentioned fairly frequently among her list of friends she likes to play with at school, and was happy to have received an invitation to her party.  Bouncy places have become much more fun as Samantha has gotten older, now that she's able to climb the ladders to the big slides (no easy feat, as most of you know!).  While I used to cringe in fear as the older, stronger kids would push past her to get to the top more quickly, she has proven herself capable of holding on tightly, going with the flow, and offering up her own push from time to time when someone crowds her space too aggressively.  The last party at a bouncy place that we went to was in January.  Samantha did pretty well, but asked me to join her in each of the static-y, jiggly apparatuses.  I learned how amazing a workout jumping up and down in a giant air-filled pillow can be, and vowed to try to find a living-room sized version of my own one day.

Saturday was different.  I had a sneaking feeling it might be...  The moment we arrived and had taken off our shoes (mine removed in anticipation of being summoned her at her Royal Majesty's whim), her friends surrounded her in greeting, grabbing her hand and leading her off to play with them. 

She never looked back.

For once, for the very first time, Mommy was able to sit and chat with the other parents.  While I still kept a watchful eye, I only saw my child having the time of her life, as children should at birthday parties.  Her friends stayed close, and every now and then I'd see them running across the room, hand in hand, to another activity, Sammi laughing all the way.  The other girls occasionally helped her a bit too much, but really, I did appreciate it, and Samantha, my little independent, almost-not-a-preschooler-anymore (yep, my little baby's been officially registered for Kindergarten now!!!) stopped them when she wanted to do something herself.

I was thinking back to my statement in a previous post about how Samantha has cried at nearly every birthday party in the last year and a half.  And it's true.  And I've been trying to dissect each experience to see if I can figure out what the triggers are.  And I think I may have sussed it out, finally.  First of all, there's the familiarity piece.  Does Sammi know all/most of the children there, and feel comfortable with the environment?  She sure did on Saturday...  Then there's the singing of Happy Birthday to You.  That bottom lip always seems to go then, and I suspect it may be due to the close proximity of the voices surrounding her, all singing in unison (sort-of).  Eh, who can blame her?  I watched her carefully when they started on Saturday, and sure enough, there went the lip, stuck out and quivering.  But I grabbed her and distracted her enough to head it off at the pass, holding those tears at bay.  And lastly, I have finally figured out the issue with the cake...  So many of these organized birthday parties at places other than people's homes have people that bring the cake over for the obligatory moment when the songcanbesung/candlescanbelit, but then after so much anticipation, so much drooling over the promise of brightly-colored frosting and cake, it's lifted up off the table and flown away to some unseen location to be cut.  Then the pieces are brought back on plates, divvied out among children, some to be served sooner than others by pure luck of the draw.  Poor Sammi, that's got to be such a trauma!  I should have known.  We always cut her birthday cake right in front of her so the first delicious piece can be dropped onto her plate in seconds.

And on Saturday it wasn't

And she was about to cry.  And I had been watching and waiting and anticipating once again, ready to explain to her the mysteries of the missing cake and the virtue of patience.  And she did well.  I could see her internal struggle, trying to listen to my logical explanation, trying to be patient.

Sooooo, there were lessons all around to be learned here.  The power of friendships, the fortune of a great PT, the knowledge that issues can be overcome with understanding.  I have no doubt there will be issues at some point again, but at least we got to go to one very happy birthday party.


sound asleep in my chair after the party


19 comments:

Alicia said...

ohh i wanted to see pictures of Sammi at the party ;)
love her leggings by the way :)

this is why i hate speech barrier, i mean, other kids can explain what they feel, fear, etc, but our kids not! well Elias has gotten much better, wich he hates about the cake is when the birthday person bite the cake and someone push the person to have cake all over the face. so Elias decided this year that he wouldnt "bite" the cake, he used his finger to taste it, and he was proud lol

bouncy things here are called inflables, or brincolines, two words hard for a boy with speech problems, so we began calling them poing poing lol, he says "po po" not a very good thing since here poop is called popo lol but months ago he began saying po po iolin

he has good motor skills, not the greatest, but what he has is a lot of fear. fear to fall, fear to climb, fear to the unkonown, fear to be pushed etc etc... this is since he was baby, really, he didnt do many of motor skills untile he knew he was ready and he will not fall, the day he walked he did like 30 steps and then fall- very carefully :) but he has gotten much better, he doesnt have afraid-not much- of kids anymore! (he was at least 15 minutes checking the situtation, to wich bouncy castle jump in).

Here at parties we have shows, with contests, dancing, jokes etc, Elias always likes to watch but not to participate, and this past friday he danced.... i was so happy and proud!! :D

ohhh kids!! they are so much fun to watch :) Glad Sammi had a better time at this party :D you will see will get better with time and consistence.

Cathy said...

This makes my heart so happy!!! Yay Sammi!

Anna said...

our community had a celebration by the river over the weekend and we just walked past the "inflatables". There were just too many kids and parents and our daughter is probably where your sweetheart was a year ago or more. Thankfully a vendor saw her and gave her a lollipop and she was happy as a clam. SO glad you see progress each time. Its so rewarding isnt it!

Anonymous said...

Sigh...

Rochelle said...

Awesome! That is pure happiness in that nap! So glad for a great event for her. I love how she stopped the kids when they were stepping over her boundary, way to go Sammi!

Lori said...

I am so glad that Sammi (and you) had such a good day. Birthday parties are tough for a lot of kids - chromosomally enhanced or not. Sammi is so lucky to have such and observant mom to be able to pick up on her triggers.
And I am picturing Sammi's smile in my head as she is running around with her girlfriends =)

Chromosomally Enhanced said...

ooohhhh tears of HAPPY!! I am so excited for Sammi! and you really rock!! smiles

Lacey said...

First of all, those pants are to die for!!
How great for her to have grown so much! More birthday parties, here she comes!!

my life: said...

YAY!!! SO happy for you...and most of all Sammi. :0)

Zoey's mom said...

First,had no idea about the accident.Wasn't on FB much,if at all.So happy it all ended well.Well,except the car part :(

This post was amazing.Made me smile.Knowing how Sammi has struggled with sensory issues and overload and just like that,a day to rejoice in.

We have continued to take Zoey to her brothers basketball games.Exposing her to the crowds and the noises and I am happy to report ... better.The whistles are ridiculously loud for anyone,so those still make her jump a bit but on the whole I would say,better and that is all that matters.

Brandie said...

Yay! You are such an intuitive mommy, to have figured all that out. :)

Jenny said...

This was wonderful to read...And you wrapped it up with such a sweet picture of Sammi :)

Roo's Mom said...

Love the pants! It is so encouraging to see progress being made over time. There have been many times when I have fretted over how Roo would do at a party or a playdate and over time she is improving in her capacity to be involved and to have fun.

Sammi is an amazing little girl!

Anna said...

So lovely to read this!!

RobMonroe said...

We had a VERY similar experience the first time Abby was invited to one of those parties - including my shoes-off expecting to have to save her. She has asked often to go back, because she never thought of me ONCE that day!

Liz said...

So excited that she had a great time at the party! And by the way - I'm with Sammi when it comes to cake. I hate the cutting of - and waiting for - the piece of birthday cake. That's why, at Lilly's parties, we do cupcakes - instant gratification for Lilly and her friends. :)

Michelle said...

I love those gatherings when you can see your child interacting w/her classmates outside of school - and see how very much they are valued as a peer! How wonderful! Yay for you on being able to pick up on those triggers for Sammi and effectively able to deal with them! Love the tuckered out picture!

Crazy Beautiful Love said...

Ok. I had tears too. I always read your post and wonder how Es is going to react oneday in similar situations. I am so happy she was comfortable. I felt my mommy instincts come in and started bitting my nails at the thought of Sammi first arriving at the party and you waiting to see..
Oh and emma (my "typical" 5year old) also pouts about the cake! Gotta love the 5s! Or tolerate them anyway. -erin

Melissa said...

Sammi pants are awesome!! And I love independent she is getting! Yay for a great birthday party.