I find it hard to believe that my little Pudding will be 5 years old soon.
When your child has additional needs, birthdays can sometimes be a stark reminder of milestones missed. This year though, it’s a new challenge that is facing me. The birthday party!
Last year he had only just had an operation to fit a portacath into his spinal canal, so we didn’t do much for his birthday. So this time it will be his first proper birthday party.
First decision was where to hold it. Pudding has been to a few parties recently in a hall with an entertainer or bouncy castle. Whilst he has enjoyed himself at these events it’s been in an ‘excited by the general atmosphere and balloons’ way rather than in joining in with his peers. I want his party to be one where he can take part on his own terms, so I’ve gone for one of the local soft play places.
These are definitely not my idea of fun, but kids seem to love them. This one is relatively small, so Pudding won’t be left behind while more able kids enjoy the bigger equipment. And I’ve been able to book exclusive use, so I don’t have to worry about him throwing things at complete strangers – his friends will be pretty used to his ways so I’ll worry less about them!
Guest list was next. Being minimally verbal he can’t tell me who he wants there. Of course there are some obvious candidates – Niece is top of the list, and I’ve got to know some of the children in Pudding’s class who seek him out. His TA has helped me out with a list of other children he plays with regularly.
And last issue on my list is presents. I’d hate to be one of those parents who nit-pick and insist on a gift list for their little darling. But when it comes down to it, there are only certain things that will be suitable for Pudding. Many of the toys that other children might receive would either be thrown at us, sit on a shelf for years or be adopted by T instead. So I agonised for a while, and then included this with the invites:
As many of you will know already, P is a bit of a character! Most presents for a five year old are not really appropriate and even I have problems buying for him. If, instead of a present, you would like to make a donation to a relevant charity that would be fantastic. We suggest the MPS Society (http://www.mpssociety.org.uk/) or the children’s hospice Martin House (http://www.martinhouse.org.uk/). If you’d rather not do that, please feel free to ask me for gift ideas. But most importantly don’t feel like you need to do either! He’ll have an absolute ball at the party and playing with his friends will be the only thing that matters to him.
Hopefully I won’t offend anyone with that! Sorted. Now all I have to do is decide on the theme for this year’s cake.
And the best thing of all? When I took him into school yesterday, one little boy came and asked me how to sign ‘Happy Birthday’ in Makaton because he wanted to say it to Pudding. I could have literally melted on the spot. Instead I had to admit that I didn’t know – but I’ve learnt it now!