A happy birthday... :)
Thanks for the kind birthday wishes from commenters on my last post! Brendan had what seemed to me to be a magical day on his birthday. Magical because, in spite of pre-birthday jitters, he was less ticcy, less OCD-driven, less inflexible than usual, & so he really enjoyed the day & so did we! :)
I had been very concerned that we wouldn't get him to church after opening birthday presents (including a desperately-desired lego), but he was very mellow & only asked to bring his new Kirara (demon cat from InuYasha) plushie with him- no prob! He had a great time on the church computer while Charlie & I were in choir rehearsal, & even came up front with his Sunday School class during the service for a presentation (something he really doesn't like to do). We zoomed home after church, bringing our 17-year-old goddaughter with us, for a quick lunch & then off to the clubhouse to finish setting up for the party.
The party went off smoothly & with no difficulties at all from the guys I was worried about. Hooray!! My faith in humanity (& in the inner sweetness of even the most troubled child) was restored, for sure. There were repeated comments from the kids on how fun the activities were, & no-one balked at being asked to dress-up. Some of the guys came up with elabourate back-stories for their costumed characters :) Our goddaughter made a great sphinx :) & she was amazed by how easily the kids got some of the hardest riddles. The guys who were "cursed" to become the dragon seemed to have a blast:
(that's Charlie in the backwards jexter hat & Brendan in his mage robes :)
...they sorted-out who would be in the front of the dragon pretty quickly & went about uncursing themselves with good humour (they had to get someone to offer the dragon a drink of water without speaking :) The rest of the kids thought it was hilarious. The rate at which they whipped through the fairly challenging games made me glad I'd made them pretty difficult (yet not so difficult that our guys with motor-planning issues- & there were at least 4 of them there- would have too much trouble). The big surprise was that they got hung-up when it came to putting together the puzzle to make the treasure map. Go fig... but there were lots of adults on hand eager to join in the fun, & there was ping pong & foosball upstairs to make the waiting easier.
They finally figured it out & found the treasure box in the sandy, cave-ish basement of the clubhouse (top photo is of the treasure-frenzy :). I was amazed by how popular the mardi gras beads were- the kids, boys & girls, went around festooned for the rest of the afternoon. It really was time for cake & ice cream after that, & afterward Charlie was amazed by how all of the kids gathered around to watch Brendan open his presents.
Recently Joel asked What do you love about your autie?. Although there are many things that I love about my son, a few sprang to mind as I watched him at his party... Brendan greeted everyone personally as they arrived, setting the tone by welcoming them to the "quest". He participated unselfconsciouslessly in the activities, pretty much forgetting that he was the "birthday boy" & encouraging his friends to have fun. When he opened his prezzies (aka "loot" :) he was equally excited about each one, saying something complimentary about every gift he got (he told me later that he remembered not to mention if he already had something he was given, because he didn't want anyone to feel bad :). When it was time for everyone to leave, he stopped what he was doing & said good-bye, in spite of being really tired & distracted by all of the excitement. He was wonderful. Charlie & I were so proud & more than a little relieved that he kept it together so well. In the comments for my last post club 166 mentioned that he hopes his son will get to the point where he makes friends. I can think back to years when I've hoped & wondered the same thing, & I think it was age & maturity that finally did it. Our guys on the spectrum have a longer curve for learning the social stuff, but Brendan has definitely gotten to a place where he knows who his friends are & has a good sense of who isn't, too. I wasn't ever sure it would happen, but it has. Whew!
When we got home from the festivities we just let him lego, offering him various foods to keep him nourished, & ate scrambled eggs ourselves, for dinner. His room looked like an explosion at the lego factory right before bed- mostly because he & dad had moved all of the projects started in the living room upstairs, so that at least one room was passable. As he got a last few pieces put in place before bed, I discovered that the new bionicle Bahrahki containers are this really cool translucent blue & have decided to try & make a lamp from one of them... stay tuned :)
Monday morning we had some extra time before leaving the house because he was due at the orthodontist for the rest of his braces at 9:00 am- more lego time! This appointment took longer, but they said it went very well, thanks to his co-operation. He was definitely much cooler about it all this time, not jumping up & down excited (no duh!) but not whiny or unhappy about it all either. He refused the offered tylenol on the way to school & seemed pretty comfortable, pain-wise, although the fixed bite-plate was making him lisp a lot & he wasn't very happy about it. He had a fine day at school & bounced out to the car when I came to get him. He said that the plate was starting to give him some pain & that he'd take me up on the tylenol offer when we got home. I told him that we needed to start his birthday meeting treat after snack time, & then he was free to do what he liked until dinner. He got a few dvds for his birthday & was excited by some new doings at Adventure Quest that a friend had told him about, so I knew he'd have sufficient distraction from his face if he needed it.
At Brendan's school they celebrate birthdays by having "birthday meetings". On the first 2 floors (pre-k through 4th grade) all of the kids & teachers sign one big card & then the birthday child's family makes a treat to share with, usually, 2 classes of kids- about 25 people at most. They sing happy birthday & then the birthday child can make up a math problem or just ask the rest of the kids to guess their age, then they have the snack. Parents are not only welcome, but pretty much expected to make an appearance if they can :) The first couple of years we were really good & brought fresh fruit trays for snack, & the fun for Brendan was dyeing the dipping-yoghurt different colours with food-colouring. The past couple of years we've gone a bit more decadent, making candy sushi from rice krispie treat rolled around twizzlers, wrapped in fruit roll-ups & sliced into little maki sushi's. Brendan & I have really enjoyed setting-up an assembly line to make these :) Mom does the sticky bits & Brendan unwraps things... With the braces, though, we needed a new idea. We got that idea from the jello that Brendan's been eating since his first round of braces- jello aquariums. We'd seen this on Zoom a few years ago- carve little fish from apple slices & suspend them in a clear cup of blue jello. It takes some time, since you have to do 2 pourings of jello to set the fish properly (& I still had some floaters), not to mention carving all those apple fish (52-ish of them). Brendan & I made the first batch of jello together, then I set him free while I poured it into 26 clear plastic cups & set them on cookie-sheets in the fridge. A bit before dinner I started carving fish, floating them in lemon-water to keep them from turning brown. After dinner Brendan & I situated the fish in the set jello & then we made another batch of jello to top it off. (We ended-up using 9 boxes of jello for 27 cups.) We ran into a hitch while situating the fish, when Brendan started freaking out about eating the cute little fish. Sigh. I made him one without & Charlie undertook to calm him down while I finished up. He was feeling better, though, today when I brought them in at 11:20 for the mature, 3rd-floor version of the birthday meeting (everyone sits down to lunch, sings happy bday, & then eats snack with lunch). He was very proud of the jello aquariums & his classmates were impressed that we'd made them.
All in all, an exhausting but exhilirating few days. Brendan has turned 11 in style & he doesn't see the orthodontist again (barring the unforeseen) for 6 weeks!