As I get into my adult years, I like to think of my birthday as more about my Mom than about me. I mean honestly, do I want to keep counting them anyhow? I've had enough birthdays to see the inaugurations of ten presidents (and participate in votes for half of them), see the start and end of America's space shuttle program, watch as personal computers grew by shrinking (from the TRS-80 to the iPad), and to be called "people your age". So, to say that I no longer experience the same thrill from each new birthday as I once did would understate the truth.
The same goes for the first few birthdays as a new parent. For me, at least, the little ones were still young enough that they didn't feel the full thrill behind the streamers, crepe paper, pastel cakes, gift wrap and party hats. Those first couple of celebrations (maybe numbers one and two) were for us, the Parents. Admit it. Even you found some gratification (and maybe a little selfish pride) from the attention doted on you, Mom and Dad, in the name of your precious little angel.
But at a certain age, that doting turns toward the kids, which is as it should be. They acknowledge the gifts they receive with smiles by the pound. Their laughter, the screeches --- all approval for of a job well done. At that time, its all about the kid. Or, at least, it should be.
Not in our house; not with Nolan. Today is Nolan's birthday, and for us it was simply the day after yesterday. There were no giggles after tearing into a package. Last night we heard no sound of anticipation; no "Daddy, tomorrow's my birthday" or "what did you get me, Mom?". He can't tell us what he wants, so he doesn't screech in excitement when he gets it.
We tried to liven up tonight with a trip to Applebee's --- mainly because they sing that familiar birthday cadence (the one that only the people embarrassing the birthday-ee enjoy). Instead of smiling from ear-to-ear, he covered them with his hands. Not the reaction we were hoping for.
A friend told me today that he's adorable, and the fact that he doesn't get the same emotion from birthdays as other kids doesn't matter; that he loves and respects us anyhow. I know she was trying to help; I really do. But its little comfort to parents who want their children to experience joy; parents on this side of the fence. Birthdays, Christmas, even Easter Egg Hunts.
Nolan's sisters and his cousins traipsed the yard outside Grandma's house this past weekend looking for hidden plastic eggs. But to get Nolan to do so meant breaking him away from SpongeBob. He took five minutes to find twelve eggs; then he was back in his pineapple under the sea.
Maybe that explains why no one --- not anyone --- called him for his birthday, either. It was probably figured he wouldn't understand the reason for the call, anyhow. Maybe not. But I would have known.
Not that it matters, since at that age it's about the kids anyhow.
Autism and the ER–finally.
4 days ago