Happy Birthday, Eddie

Yesterday Eddie turned six. Birthdays to us are all about finding a meaningful way to celebrate and generally assuring that Eddie has a fabulous day. Basically, two major tasks comprise my planning.

First, let’s start with the presents. Some of you may have read the article I wrote about purchasing toys for visually impaired children for Family Connect. It is always a difficult process; especially when I feel like I have purchased all the great toddler and preschool toys and he has not developmentally progressed to the next step.

Another difficult part about presents is that most of our family and friends want my advice on a great toy. What does Eddie need? What does he like? What does he want? This isn’t an easy question when I can’t just ask Eddie. I left everyone to their own devices this year and Eddie received presents I had never thought of and I was grateful they were thought of for me.

The other major task is planning a party or at least some way of making his birthday into a big deal. Eddie’s idea of a great birthday would be leaving him alone in a room with his very own cake…and a side of pancakes. This does not scream “birthday” to me or to his sisters. The question then is whether we force Eddie to have a party, when the chaos might be too much, or let him have a solitary evening.

Being a mother, and because on this night I was babysitting four other children, we had a party. A full disclosure would mean stating that Eddie didn’t participate much in the party. He was allowed to also spend some quiet time alone listening to a new CD, which he loved. All the other children, including his siblings, were still able to enjoy decorations, treat bags, and the general “party” atmosphere.

Due to Eddie’s solitary preferences, this party was more for the children in his life. It gave them an opportunity to bring Eddie into “their world” and to understand that he is a kid just like them. We still celebrated Eddie and he ate cupcakes and enjoyed multiple renditions of “Happy Birthday to You.” When it came time for presents, Eddie wouldn’t participate. I decided to give every child here a present, counted to three, and they all opened one for Eddie. Then, we went around the table and each kid told Eddie what he got.

It will take Eddie days to fully explore each gift, and even longer to understand what each gift is for, but we can’t simply ignore a birthday. Eddie had a great time at school and I felt like he knew the day was about him. It was important for us to bring that same feeling home. On the way to bed, he was sung to one more time and he complimented us nicely by stating “Excellent Job”.