Do you remember that feeling you had when you were a grade school child who just received an invitation to a classmate's birthday party? I sure do. All the kids in my class (including me) discussed the party details- Who was going? What were we going to wear? What gift are you going to bring the birthday boy/girl? Those are things I remember about grade school...the fun stuff as well as the feeling of being included.
Now imagine being one of the few kids who did not receive an invite...
As a child, I always wondered how it felt to be one of those kids-to be excluded. And then I quickly reverted back to feeling lucky and grateful that I was always invited to the parties. I couldn't bring myself to go there...not even for a second.
My son is one of those children. I know Nolan has a different way of interacting with his peers, but that doesn't mean he isn't interested in being included. Nolan loves parties, he loves balloons, he loves singing "Happy Birthday"! I also know that he loves his friends in his class! He mentions names from school quite often-that is how I know this.
Years ago I sat back and thought to myself...what can I do about this? Very quickly I went into "mom mode" and I knew what I could do. I had a solution! The answer to this problem became very clear to me...
INVITE THEM! INVITE THEM! INVITE THEM! Oh yeah, CONTINUE TO INVITE THEM!
No, Nolan wasn't getting many invites to parties, but inviting EVERYONE-EVERY YEAR his birthday came around was what I was gong to do...and will continue to do! What a great idea this was-it was working! No, not many people RSVP'ed that they were coming, but some did!
Nolan just had a birthday, and yes, I invited them. Oh,what fun the kids had! I rented bubble balls fro the kids to play in. What are bubble balls you might be asking yourself? A bubble ball party is an excuse for kids (adults too ;) ) to climb into a gigantic bubble and roll around and bump into each other. Perfect for ALL 10 year old boys, right? Plus it rained, which made it even more fun for the boys to get soaked (and dirty!) while rolling around in a gigantic ball ;)
The kids had a blast, which is all that matters. Many boys that came were in his special needs class, as well as some from his "typical" 4th grade class. I noticed that none of the boys saw any differences among themselves. They all played together. It was so amazing to watch. I was in "mama heaven"!
So why do I keep inviting ALL boys in Nolan's class when many of them do not show or do not invite Nolan? Because ALL kids should have an opportunity to be included-every single one of them. Different is not less...it never will be in my book.