This has been an eventful week here in the Flashlight House to say the least. Late last week we celebrated the anniversary of Mary’s 29th birthday! And tomorrow the J-Man turns 4. I can’t believe it; time goes by so fast.
We don’t do much in the way of birthday presents or parties around here really. We’re a pretty low-key bunch. About all Mary and I do for each other is the one not having the birthday goes and picks up takeout, we try to spend some unhurried time together, and we each get some additional me time that typically involves one of us getting a couple of hours out of the house sometime around our actual birthday.
The J-Man seems like he really couldn’t care less about birthdays. Actually, birthday parties routinely upset him. We’ve gone to his friends’ parties, and – understatement warning – rarely does he enjoy himself much. Strange places, crowds, noise, lots of running kids, etc. just don’t do for him, which I can understand. We go because we feel like he needs some practice at social events, but we know when he’s had enough and adjust accordingly. I can’t remember any of his birthday parties where he didn’t just burrow into somebody’s shoulder most of the time.
The concept of presents to unwrap doesn’t seem to click with him either. His general lack of attachment to things doesn’t lend itself to being excited about gifts on his birthday, Christmas, or whenever. And in what seems endemic to autistic kids, he absolutely hates the Happy Birthday song. He covers his ears and retreats into himself. Somebody really needs to do a research study on this phenomenon.
So, we decided to forgo a birthday party for him this year and celebrate it more in his style rather than in the way I think people (and for a long time us, too) expect it should be. We bought him a new swing for the swing set outside, one with a high back and built almost like a small, plastic recliner. He can’t use kid swings because when he gets excited and stims out, he lets go of the swing and flies off. (Thank God for mulch…) Obviously he’s too big for a toddler bucket swing. This new one is rated up to at least 100 lbs and has a five-point harness.
The weather is supposed to be absolutely beautiful tomorrow afternoon when he gets home from school. (70s in early September?!) What will be our birthday party then? Swinging outside – just us and my dad. Simple gifts. But the kind he loves most of all.
These past few days have gone like that too – one small but unspeakably wonderful gift after another shining through even in the midst of the craziness of everyday life.