Birthday Parties

I just read an article from my aunt’s website about her struggles and joys of having a daughter with a severe handicap. The article was actually a friend of hers talking about the disappointments of not being invited to birthday parties. It is always a tricky decision of who to invite, how many, how big to make it but this was truly thought provoking to me especially the line about when my children look back at their parties wouldn’t they be glad they had invited someone who was a little different, and wouldn’t they be glad that their mum and dad were open-minded and caring enough to invite someone who may need a little more attention and care. Anyway hope you enjoy :

There’s a debate that’s been aired on UK TV recently about whether schools should allow birthday invitations to be handed out in class if not all the children are invited to the party. Obviously there are plenty of sides to that debate, both practical (maybe you can’t host a whole class full of kids), particular (do you have to invite the kid that bullies you), moral (why is it any of the school’s business – though they’re only suggesting a rule for what happens in school) and emotional (isn’t 5-11 years of age too young to learn such cruel lessons about exclusion – can’t we save those a little longer?)
It’s drawing in a lot of people because, as every parent knows, there are few injuries that can be done to you that are as painful as seeing your child left out, disappointed, hurt without understanding why…
As the parent of a little girl (aged 9) who received her only ever invitation to a school friend’s party five years ago the discussion hit me hard. I know at school she must hear the children talking about parties, who went, what they wore. She can’t ask me why she’s not invited, and honestly, if she could I wouldn’t know what to tell her – I can imagine few more difficult conversations.
Celyn has her own birthday parties and I’m more grateful than I can say that each year six or seven little girls turn up and light up her day for a few hours. It’s frightening to think how much I’d pay them to come if that were necessary and an option.
I understand the reasons she’s not invited. People are awkward around her disabilities, worried they might have to cope with something, worried perhaps that we might just leave her for them to look after or that the presence of her carer would spoil things… I understand all that and I can’t condemn it. But I think that when those girls are grown, if they could look back at their parties and remember Celyn was there – they’d feel better about themselves, about their parents, and they’d be better people. So perhaps those mothers could think of my daughter as an opportunity rather than a problem.
I know that the hard lessons have to be learned, that they can’t be put off forever… but doctors and statistics tell us that Celyn is unlikely to ever be an adult, and for me, knowing all the sh** she has to put up with and that she’s already had to come to terms with… I’d rather see her life punctuated by parties than by disappointments.
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