The little ones birthdays are a week apart. They’ve never had a birthday party with friends as Popples is too shy and never wanted one and Oliver doesn’t have many friends. They’ve both been to some parties and Oliver understands the rules to a degree and she has become less shy. She asked for a party and I talked through with her that people would sing to her, look at her and give her presents and she’d have to talk and say thank you. She said she could do it and she wouldn’t be shy because it was her party.
Ok then. Where’s appropriate for 5 and 7 year olds. We picked a soft play area I used to take them to as babies. When I went to book I asked about exits, as Olly is a runner. The woman was on the ball immediately on my mention of autism:-“do you need to change the menu? The doors are all button release up high. Do you want no music or it just turned down?” Filled with confidence I booked the VIP party with food and party bags provided. We didn’t need the stress of a that not knowing how either of them were going to be.
Invites were handed out. Popples picked her own guest list, Olly’s teacher helped me out with his guest list, cakes ordered and then we prepared them by countdown and talking about what to expect. There were a couple of no shows but there always is.
Olivers friends really know him. He got some very thoughtful gifts, drawings that were framed, pj mask stuff, fiddle scribble pencils and lots of other things. Popples got lots of art stuff, dolls so she was happy. We had said not to bother with gifts, a card would have been enough and the way Ollys friends have treated him and helped him is worth more to us than anything. And we know that people are struggling in these times. We just wanted the kids to have fun. People are very generous.
Party day-up early and out for a party starting at 10 am. She did me proud. Everyone was greeted, she played instead of sticking tonne like she usually does. Oliver’s friends obviously know him so well that they dumped his present then went to find him to say happy birthday. No way was he coming off the climbing equipment. At food time he sat nicely. Popples kept her eyes on the candle at singing time so she couldn’t see the stares, our coping strategy worked. He had a bite of sandwich then ran off to play. All the food was eaten, they played some more, she handed out party bags then it was home time. 2 hours raced by. Everyone seemed happy, Oliver hadn’t slapped his best friend despite being very excited – in fact he gave hugs as they were leaving.
We wrote our thank you cards that afternoon ready to give out on Monday. Then me and dad finally got a coffee and a sit down. We had prepared for every “what if” and were on high alert but it had gone smoothly. Better than we could have wished for. No tears, no clinging, only tiny bits of shyness, no slapping, no fall outs. It was worth every penny to see them so happy and with their friends. I think the joint party was best as Popples didn’t have sole attention on her and Oliver got his friends too. There’s a minimum amount for that type of party so it worked well.
I’m looking at an outdoor climbing and camp fire party for him next year, if we can get the danger element sorted. But that’s next year.
My children had a party. And it was a success.