Birthdays keep you honest, don’t they? My little girl just turned 12 and her birthday came with a very clear realisation that I now share my first born child with the world.
Avalon has always stayed home from school on her birthday, the two of us would always just hang, some years more elaborate things such as the movies or the zoo would fill our agenda. This year I gave my grade seven the choice, hang with mum or go to school? Her reply “I’d like to go to school and see my friends, but lets go out for dinner to Mexican as a family when I get home”. Insert dramatic music here. Friends first, then Family? And so it begins. My girl is growing in independence and starting to navigate this world by herself.
Birthdays always make me a little sad as I sit back and see how quickly all of our kids are growing up. I have learned as a parent to never take for granted how important friends are for our kids. Our middle boy is on the autism spectrum and for him, friendships are really difficult. Kids with Autism struggle to understand the social rules that come naturally to most of us. They are seen as quiet, different or weird so they get left out or left behind.
Truth is, they desperately want to make friends but just don’t know what to say or do. It’s like being in another country wanting to hang with the locals but not understanding a word they say. It is heartbreaking as a mum to find out that your son was the only boy in a whole class not get a birthday party invite. If there is one thing you can do to help kids with extra quirks it is to simply invite them to your kid’s birthday party. Other gorgeous souls along the way have gone out of their way to include our son.
We appreciate this more than you will ever know. His Brother and Sister get invited to parties all the time, it’s bittersweet. A house filled with excitement at the thought of giving presents and eating sugar, offset by questions like ‘’how come I never get invited mum?“ But I never take this luxury for granted. The excitement we share when our middle boy receives an invite is like getting one of Willy Wonka’s Golden Tickets. So happy birthday to my beautiful Avalon.
You may not want to stay at home with Mum anymore but I love that you want to be with your friends. You need them in your life just like family so make plenty of them, and be a good one back. I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes: “you may only hold your child’s hand for a short time but you hold their heart forever.”