Yesterday Bee attended her first birthday party. She doesn't have many friends. Her complete lack of social skills mean she doesn't make any of her own and I don't have many friends with small children that we can socialize with. It was a joint party for four different children, one of which is Bee's little cousin Ryan and I'd been worrying a lot about it. It would be busy, with lots of strange people we'd never met and not to mention noisy. I was worried about the very real possibility of Bee spending the entire party crying on my knee, overwhelmed by it all. It wouldn't be the first time it's happened in busy, unfamiliar situations.
I'd spent two days talking about the party and trying to answer her many "why" questions about birthdays and parties. We'd also watched the 'birthday' episode of Something Special many times, talking about what was happening and how she would get to do similar at Ryan's party. I was just hopeful it would all help.
On Saturday morning we dressed in our finery, Bee was very excited about her party dress and spent much time wandering around the living room pointing at herself and sticking her tummy out. Not so much fun was the hair brushing, but that never is, stupid curls!
The party was at a local function room and was due to have a DJ, entertainer, the works and when we arrived it was in full swing: loud music and a dance floor full of running, jumping, shouting, dancing, chasing, screaming kids and a DJ orchestrating in the middle of it all.
We found Foz's sister, Ryan and Fox's parents at a table towards the back (relief) and joined them. Bee, although quiet, seemed quite interested in the children on the dance floor and I asked if she wanted to go and do some dancing but "no" was the fairly firm answer, I didn't push her. I persevered though and asked every few minutes until eventually something changed and she suddenly decided that dancing sounded like the most fun thing ever! She was all squealing and flappy arms! Bee took my hand and led me to the dance floor but I couldn't get her to move beyond the fringe. I crouched down next to her, took her hands and tried to initiate some groovy moves but all she wanted to do was sit and my knee and watch. Which was fine and lasted a few minutes before we were back at our table. This to-ing and fro-ing went on for a while, each trip to the dance floor lasting a little longer than the last. But it wasn't until the DJ brought out lots of large modelling balloons that Bee really forgot herself and went in for the kill.
Bee really loves balloons and we had a lovely session of squealing and scrunchy face as she waved them all around, greatly amused at their different to normal balloons.
And look: we made a hat!
The DJ set up lots of games using the balloons: who can stick them to the ceiling, who can make the best model etc etc. Bee doesn't understand enough to join in so we moved back to our table as the party took a more games-based turn.
The buffet opened and Bee was the only child that made a bee-line (ahem) for the platter with raw carrot and cucumber sticks, which she thoroughly enjoyed and followed with more toddler-like behaviour: a plate of cakes! Her dietician would be thrilled!
|I can make a hat too Mama!|
After food it was back to the dance floor for pass-the-parcel. Bee has never played before but was thrilled by the sight of the DJ holding a present. The kids were split into two groups, boys and girls, and we duly took out place with the girls. Bee was one of the youngest there and sat on my knee to play, partly due to her confidence and partly because she still needs a lot of support and direction to join in. I briefly tried to explain what was going to happen but the music started and we were off. The parcel came to Bee and she eagerly grabbed it, pulling at the paper. I had to swiftly pass it to the next child, which Bee looked a little perturbed about but she took it in her stride. As the parcel made it's way around the circle again I kept telling her that we had to pass it along until the music stopped but this time when it reached her she tried to hold on a little longer. I guided her hands across to the next little girl and she reluctantly let go.
|"Let go Bee" - "Why?"|
As the game went along the parcel kept bypassing Bee and each time it did she gripped a little harder and complained a little louder until finally there was a winner and Bee hadn't had a turn. I tried to explain the game was finished and the tears started. In retrospect pass-the-parcel must seem the cruelest game in the world: you show a child a present, let them hold it then take it away for another child to have. Torture. Ah well, it's all experience and to see her joining in with the other children and not hiding at the back was wonderful.
After her pass-the-parcel meltdown her tiredness started to show through, she was happy just to sit by the side of the dance floor and play with a burst balloon, despite my attempts to get her interested in joining in.
The party came to an end soon after and it was time to leave. Overall it had been a very successful adventure and Bee was thrilled to be given a party bag as we left. The three hours we'd spent there had been plenty enough for her, any longer and I think she would have descended into tired tears and tantrums.
Home again and it was party bag time! There was cake, some sweeties (which mama had to eat), some bubbles and a pink bouncy ball. Winner! All that was left to do was enjoy a quiet couple of hours with cake, a cuppa for mama and some Mr Tumble before it was time to pick daddy up from work.
Our first party had gone more successfully than I could have hoped and, although they always reinforce for me just how delayed Bee's development is, each time we do something like this I see the small steps of progress Bee is making with her social skills and confidence issues. I'm so proud of her.