P is for Party
Party. That word strikes dread into many a spectrummy mummy. Some of our kids need routines, and a party generally circumvents the expected. What is spontaneous and surprising to some is terror-inducing to others. Many of our kids don’t like certain noises, and loud music and crowds tend to make too much noise. One of my kids likes routines, and they both have trouble with noise, but these days both of them love a party.
So this weekend when we told the kids we were going to a party for Independence Day, they were excited about it. The trouble was that this party was a little bigger than what we are used to, with 300 people expected to attend. It was also being held by the Embassy in Pretoria, so we were also unfamiliar with the venue.
We arrived early, which tends to help our kids find a place less overwhelming than when it is already crowded- I know this because I don’t do well with crowds either, but am able to build up my tolerance easier than adjusting to an already packed place. The weather was glorious for an outdoor event, and the kids enjoyed the fact that there was a playground and bouncy castle to play on.
Pudding even tried something we’d never done before- she had her face painted. When she was younger there was just no way we could get her to sit still long enough, nor did I have any idea how she would tolerate the feeling of the paint on her skin. I needn’t have worried- the allure of having a “pinkalicious Hello Kitty” on her cheek turned out to be more than enough incentive to go through with it.
The kids had no problem with the music that was played, but Pudding struggled with the deep voice of the Ambassador over the loudspeaker. We missed our chance with the balloon man, but managed to avoid Uncle Sam on stilts (another odd phobia of mine). Now that we are only avoiding peanuts and tree nuts, there was plenty to eat, and both kids had worked up an appetite. We ate, we played, we parents even networked. Everyone had a great time.
So, P is for party. One of the unwritten obligations of my husband’s line of work is that there are certain social functions we are expected to attend. Pudding attended her first Ambassador’s reception when she was less than two weeks old. And she slept all the while as she was passed from guest to guest, as I implored everyone in sight to use some hand sanitizer. By the time she was two she was well experienced in the international social scene.
When we were in the US, we no longer had these obligations, so I tended to only take the kids to events and parties that we had to go to. Unsurprisingly, without further opportunities to practice being in these situations, the kids’ party behaviour deteriorated. I understand (believe me, I do!) the desire many parents have to avoid these situations, but for our family it was entirely the wrong move.
The more parties they go to, the more they enjoy them, the better they behave. And the beauty of a party is that they are supposed to be fun. So even if the sensory stimuli is different to what they like, or routine has been altered- there is cake, balloons, or a party bag to focus on. I don’t expect any learning to take place, I don’t insist on complicated social interactions- both of which are necessary in less fun places, like the classroom.
Pudding begins mainstream Kindergarten next month. It will be a huge transition for her, but her past experiences all work to prepare her. I’m sure that it will go well. And if it does, I know just the way she’d want to celebrate- with her very own party.
There are plenty more A-Z posts where this one came from. Read them all by clicking >here<.