Today was L's 7th birthday party. As with a lot of kids (or so I imagine) we had a family party today in advance of his friends coming for a Moshi Monster Making party on his actual birthday in the week.
Maybe I am incorrect in assuming a lot of kids are having a Moshi Making party of course, but having one for family and a separate one for friends I think seems normal? Anyway, this was the first time since I started this blog that the family had been together and I have to say I was pleased not only for the comments I got about this very blog, but also the affect it seemed to have on how people coped with L. To explain a little more there seemed to be more tolerance of L's behaviour. Not that anyone acts out of anything but kindness usually, but today I think that there was an air of calm in the house which hasn't always been the way of these events in the past. Maybe it was L’s advancing years, maybe it was H’s distracting naughtiness, or maybe it was simply karma, but it was definitely a relaxing Sunday afternoon event.
L was up at 6am this morning. Not a totally unusual occurrence, he usually wakes around 6.30 much to the frustration of my wife and I. Whilst I have never been a morning person, my wife used to be, but her superhuman efforts in managing a part-time job, motherhood and a thriving home based business has taken its toll in her ability to leap out of bed at 7am every morning. For a while this led to a lot of bad starts to the day, with L seeming to burst awake and into life with a beautiful enthusiasm which was usually snuffed out by his sleeping parents, desperate for a few more minutes of blissful sleep before submitting to the day. This would generally result in a rapid argument with L becoming frustrated with our laziness whilst we are frustrated by his early morning energy. I think for a long time this resulted in getting him off to a bad start for the day and summoning the Black Dog to heel in wait.
We decided that we should change our ways and now we take it in turns to claim a lie in each morning while the other gets up and goes downstairs with L. He doesn't like to go downstairs on his own, perhaps an element of anxiety in him if questioned about this, but now we do go down with him if asked, albeit in a zombie-like state until the early morning Caffeine kicks into our bloodstream. So today, with the extra early start and lost of jobs to do to prepare for the lunchtime celebrations I crawled out of bed and headed downstairs.
After refusing the invitation to go back to sleep, I was concerned that come midday, L would be tired, hungry, excited and the event would be chaotic and noisy. In the cocktail of Autistic stimuli, this is the Jaeger Bomb with Tequila Slammer chaser. And yet, events passed off well.
L did experience some of his trademark behaviours, after the initial present giving was over he retired to the dining room alone for a good hour or so to build his Lego Hero Factory model (a large, impressive scorpion-like creature). He sat on his own at the dining table, I think comforted by the hubbub coming from the garden and other rooms, but unbothered by other people aside from the occasional querying face at the door checking he was ok. I think when he responded he was fine, he was left to it. In the past he would probably have been insisted to join the events, coerced into the stimulating cocktail of noise and activity and an over-heated L would soon crack into a tantrum, or burst into tears at the slightest annoyance.
Don’t get me wrong, I went in myself to try and convince him to join the party, but I did so in a way which, whilst starting to put pressure on him and started to get him upset, I managed. So, I neglected my barbequeing and hosting, people went without drinks for a good 20 minutes or so, and I sat with my son in the dining room building Lego Hero Factory. They are tricky little things. After completing it, we hugged, I calmly explained that the party was for him and he should come and join it and, after refuting his accusations of people not wanting to play with him in the way he wanted, we rejoined the party.
L was spoken to by friends and relatives and answered back calmly. When he escalated and went to shout and disagree with anything, it was quietly dropped or the subject swiftly changed. All in all, where parties often ended with at least one bout on the time-out step, yesterday was calm and enjoyable.
Thanks family and friends, a great day for us all I think!
I will report back on Part 2, the Moshi Making Party, later this week!