S had his birthday, and J was asking “How long until my birthday?” since then. We knew he wanted a Lego birthday, and he was excited about the prospect of celebrating. We finally decided on the date and time, and sent out the invitations. J even had me add extra guests who he particularly wanted to come.
I should have anticipated how things would ultimately go based in his reticence as a guest at the parties he’s been invited to. Silly me – I figured when it was his party, on his turf, he’d be fine.
The party at our home was this past Sunday. In the morning, a few hours before the guests were due to arrive, he told me he wished that they could just come, and drop off their presents for him and go home! I told him that they would be staying for games and pizza and cake, and then they would go home. He wasn’t excited about the prospect.
When the doorbell rang, and the first two kids walked in, J was nowhere to be found. I said to the guests “I guess we have to start with hide-and-seek for the birthday boy!” We found him hiding behind the living room curtains.
More guests arrived, and J got more and more clingy to me and to Dad. By the time we served pizza, he was curled up in my lap, trying to be as small and hidden as possible. when we bout ought down the cake, and sang the birthday song, he was hiding his face, and covering his ears.
He wouldn’t turn around to blow out the candles – we recruited his big brother and all his guests to blow them out. He got progressively happier as the guests bid their farewells. He actually got a few hugs from his friends, and that was so cute! He was still subdued, but at least he was interacting!
This morning we packed up snacks for his birthday celebration at school. And he chose a book to bring to share with his class.
But as soon as we arrived, he started to deny to everyone he met that this was his birthday. His teachers were so great, as always, they didn’t push it, and they let him come along and participate as much as he was able. My heart was warmed by his being celebrated at circle time, with each of his classmates offering him birthday wishes (there were several wishes for blue things, like cars, since they clearly know he likes the color blue!).
They moved to the table for snack time, and J sat reluctantly at the head of the table. We had brought donuts, but also some avocados, which J loves. I cubed them, and we served them with crackers to the kids. Some of the kids declared “Gross!”, seeing green food on their plates, but they all gamely gave it a try, and several of them proclaimed that they liked it! J seemed pleased, and had second helpings of avocado. Then they had their donuts.
Finally, we moved back to the circle rug to read our story – not really a story, but a book of lovely cut-out animal graphics, by Lois Ehlert.
It turned into a very interactive session, with kids calling out what animals they saw in the pictures, and identifying shapes that make up the animals. We even snuck in a little biology teaching! Like, why is the bat on the page with the mice and rats, and not with the birds?
It was all over, and I was leaving. He seemed relieved that he didn’t have to be the birthday boy anymore. Maybe next year we’ll skip the party. He just hates being the center of attention. That’s clearly S’s place!