Victory Lap

So Charlie had a birthday party to attend this weekend. I realize that for most people this is pretty much the definition of uneventful. You show up to someone’s house, eat a little cake, watch your kids from a distance yelling things like “stop hitting people,” and then head on your way.

This ritual is a tad different for us. Charlie patently refuses to acknowledge the presence of other people by shutting his eyes and pretending that he isn’t there. People ask us repeated if he’s tired. In effort to not be complete party killers, we simply say “yes,” cringe inwardly, and wish desperately that we were somewhere else–like the dentist’s office. Or Iraq.

So I was approaching this birthday party with the same glee that many people reserve for activities like funerals and colonoscopies.

But it wasn’t that bad.
The theme of the party was water and there were several kiddie pools and one of those giant water slides for the big kids. Another theme of the party was the adults staring wistfully at the giant water slide and wishing they had an excuse to get on it themselves.

Charlie likes water, though, so I thought this was a good omen. We started him off in this contraption that’s basically like a large plastic sprinkler that babies can sit in and get sprayed from every angle. Huge Hit. Being the king of oral interaction, Charlie felt duty bound to try to get a taste of every little stream of water in his immediate area.

We also let him spend some time in the kiddie pool, which was fine except that Charlie is convinced that he can swim and nothing short of drowning is going to convince him otherwise.
After a while he started to whine and we decided that he must be hot. We went inside, hooked up his little seat that we take everywhere and he ate watermelon, looked out the window, and smiled gleefully. One person did, however, ask me how old Charlie is. When you child is tiny, and can’t walk or talk, the temptation is to lie about their age just to spare everyone the uncomfortableness of talking about disability, but I had told myself that I wasn’t going to do this. So, when the question came I simply responded: he’s two, but he has some developmental delays, so he’s not quite up with his peers. Guess what? The woman I was talking to just so happens to have an older son who has a rare chromosomal deletion. What are the chances of that? Then, just so we weren’t completely spared the uncomfortable thing, she told me about her two divorces. For the record, I never know what to say about people’s divorces so I smile uncomfortably. What’ s the proper response? I’m sorry? Congratulation? He was probably a bastard anyway? ACK!!!

So, we made it through the whole party and I didn’t cry when it was over. I did, however, refrain from running down the street with my arms in the air.
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  1. blogzilly says:

    Great story…not so much in that you had to go through it, rather how you tell it. And he had a good time, which is always good.

  2. I love the pic of him in the swing. He just looks so happy!

  3. therextras says:

    Thanks for sharing.

    That's what you say to 2-divorce-lady – if you must say anything. Gah!

    I'm happy both you and Charlie enjoyed the party. Takes a bit more than that to get me running down the street, too. Barbara

  4. caryanne says:

    That's so great that Charlie had such a great time. He is such a cute kid and I loved the pics.

    I totally hear ya on the "how old is he" question. Just 6 months ago, people didn't really realize that Ben was so delayed…but we just can't get away with that anymore. I really don't mind explaining about Ben but I always feel like the other person is uncomfortable.

  5. desperate housewife says:

    I love these pictures of Charlie. He looks so blissful.

  6. Amy Genn says:

    you're a hoot – I really enjoy your humor :)

    Oh, man! I get SO TIRED of people asking me if Eli is tired!!! We just went to a BD party today and someone asked it. But, hey at least it means they were looking at him I guess! I get quite annoyed at people who won't even talk to me because they don't know what to say to me! Duh. Just talk. We're human! It's ok to aske me what's wrong. It's NOT OK to just ignore us!

    whew. Sorry – I'll get off my soapbox now. Hee hee
    Thanks for letting me vent. Eli is almost 4. I can see BD parties are going to just keep getting harder. Ugh.

  7. Yay for Charlie making it through a party and actually having a good time! 😉

  8. I'm starting to encounter people asking if Nate is walking, talking etc. I'm with Caryann, I don't mind telling people that he's a bit delayed but they get so uncomfortable, I wonder if I should just say, "No, he's not walking and he doesn't say anything." and leave it at that. Maybe I'm thinking about this too much. Nate is only 15 months but the gap seems to be widening and he's starting to look like he should be walking, talking etc.

    So here's another issue– sounds like you've had some experience. Nate is pretty much a kill-joy. He fusses and cries during most activities that don't involve being held by dad or mom while he navigates us around by pointing at various objects in our surroundings. If animals, water, noise, or anything unfamiliar enters the scene, he freaks out. I'm trying to figure out if this is personality, or CP. He's always been sensitive to his environment but I'm wondering if he's a bit OCD or something. Is that possible in a 15 month old?

    So BLAH. There you have it Dr. Bird. Is it my CP son, my 1 year old, or just his freaky, nutty mother that needs some help?

  9. By the way, the pictures of Charlie are darling.

  10. Small Town Girl says:

    He looks happy in all those pictures! I'm glad it didn't go horribly. :)

  11. MeghatronsMom says:

    Woohoo! I know that feeling too well. That is all.

  12. sitting on the mood swing at the playground says:

    Looks like Charlie had a fun time…the photos are great!

  13. Big brother, Little sister. says:

    Lovely to find your blog xx. I am glad both you and Charlie had a great time. I sit here nodding at all that you say and know those feelings all too well. In a way it seems to get easier as they get bigger and it's more in your face as such but sometimes nice not to have to field questions. I guess there is ignorance on everyones behalf ( as far as responding to differences ie divorce!) because unless we have walk in their shoes we never really know what it's like. Charlie is just beautiful by the way!

  14. Nadine Hightower says:

    Several things are going thru my mind…Charlie in the swing is a great photo of him. I love that smile.

    Divorce: I'm the same way. My divorce was a good thing. But others are not so happy and did not dance outta the courthouse relishin' their freedom from the ass that they were married to for the eternity of 11 years.

    Never fib about his age. People that know you and Charlie should already know what the story is and if you fib…which isn't really lying….and if you don't do Santa you can't lie about his age…it just makes you look bad. Sure Charlie has a long row to hoe but he's come along way!

    I wonder if he had more interaction with other children…maybe not now but later…if he would "come outta his shell".
    Does he interact with the cats and the dog??
    And his grandparents???
    His therapists??
    People that he knows???
    Maybe if he had a regular friend that came over to visit, he would react differently.
    I don't know, I'm wingin' it off the cuff here.

    Much Love and Hugs!

  15. Candace says:

    Great post! I have recently decided to opt out of all birthday parties for the rest of eternity, that involve children!! Every time we go we end up leaving early, I end up crying and being mad and Hubby ends up trying desperatly to console me. I just feel bitter and like we stick out like sore thumbs! But now Faith's bday is a different story, we celebrate her different"ness" and I actually feel comfortable.

  16. Organic Meatbag says:

    Awwww, sweet little Charlie… that kid looks like he has a lot of heart, and that makes up for a lot of physical shortcomings…