You’ll shoot your eye out, kid (or not)

Monkey went to a birthday party this weekend. Now, on the one hand: Monkey went to a birthday party this weekend. In fact, Monkey has received no less than four birthday party invitations since beginning his time at Hippie School, and if you’re a longtime reader I probably don’t have to spell this out (but I will, anyway, because saying it out loud makes me marvel all over again), but four birthday party invitations is… oh… roughly FOUR MORE than he received in the previous couple of years combined.

Hippie School is terribly tolerant and inclusive, and I love and cherish that so much, even if it means we get an invitation to a 5-year-old’s party and Monkey’s response is “Why would I want to go to THAT?” (Answer: Because you’re all one big happy family now, DAMMIT.) Of course, this opens up a whole new avenue for us, because now instead of him always being left out we actually have to PICK and CHOOSE from the MANY party opportunities. Which is weird. And wonderful.

Parties can be a little overwhelming for him, so we’ve turned down several invitations. But this weekend was Luigi’s party, so off we went.

I stuck around, too, which was mostly so that I would be immediately available if some sort of extrication was necessary, but true to the “one big happy family of varying levels of coping skills” nature of this group, there were some parents hanging out just to socialize, some hanging out to oversee, and some who dropped and left. So I didn’t feel weird about it.

Now. I love Luigi. And I love Luigi’s mom. Heck, I loved everyone there; this is the true glory of Hippie School, that even the kids who kind of drive me crazy or parents I wouldn’t necessary go out of my way to befriend, otherwise, are ALL people I feel kindly and protective towards. There’s ample common ground on which to form all kinds of bonds when there’s a tacit agreement that this is A Safe Space For All. It’s incredible.

So understand that this is not a criticism of the party or its hosts, just me telling you about MY PARTICULAR limitations and foibles and fears, okay?

Here’s the thing: I have one kid who is a delicate flower drama queen, and one kid who has major sensory issues. The older I get, the more I feel like my sole purpose on this earth might be to shout—metaphorically or otherwise—“BE CAREFUL!” at my children. And so it is in that context that I tell you this: I absolutely HATE the big blow-up bouncy houses and slides and stuff. HAAAAAAAATE.

Guess what Luigi had at his party?

Right there in the front yard was the big climbing structure/slide monstrosity, humming away from the air pump, enticing the children in its puffy, bright-yellow glory, silently beckoning them to MOUNT ME, FLING YOUR LITTLE BODIES AROUND WITHIN ME UNTIL SOMEONE STARTS TO CRY!

The children present ranged in age from 5 to 12, and no matter how many times Luigi’s mom went out there and explained to the kids that they should go down the slide one at a time, they should look out for the littler kids, and under no circumstances should they pile on top of one another, the children nodded and said earnest “Yes, ma’am”s and went right back to trying to kill themselves and each other. I think a child came inside crying about every ten minutes or so.


A marvelous thing happened. Monkey… handled it. Monkey demonstrated an amazing (okay, for him) amount of self-awareness, and after a few minutes on the bouncy slide decided he’d rather go do other things. While I was watching half a dozen boys try (and nearly succeed) to tip the whole thing over by congregating in one of the upper corners and leeeeeeeeaning as far over as they could, Monkey was patiently waiting for Mario to dismount and go play something else. Periodically he would wander back and talk to other kids, maybe lure another one away, or maybe he would sit in the little space underneath with another kid or two for a bit, but he knew that the crash of bodies up above would upset him, so he just didn’t do it.

He remembered his manners and waited patiently for a slice a cake without protest when I asked him to let the little kids go first. He enjoyed watching Luigi open his gifts, and then faced with the choice of “playing a little bit more” or heading home, said, “I think I’ve probably had enough for today.”

He then went and thanked Luigi’s mom for having him, and thanked Luigi for inviting him, and off we went.

Now, I know this is happenstance as much as it is progress. On another day, maybe Monkey would’ve insisted on staying on the bouncy thing, and knocked heads with someone, and it all could’ve gone very differently. The next party may be a complete disaster. But this was a really lovely way to spend a couple of hours, all things considered. Though I am still suspicious of air-filled bouncy things.

[Bonus for fellow Minecraft fans: Monkey made Luigi a card with a picture of a Creeper on the front, and wrote, “That’s a very nice birthday party you have there” on it. Ha!]


  1. Lori N

    Sounds like a lovely time — enjoy the success!

  2. diane

    Yay for Monkey! And a big, big hug for the hippy school and everyone involved in it. How wonderful that Monkey has really found *his* people and *his* place. Yes, life will be up and down-but boy, is it nice to celebrate the ups! (well, as long as they don’t result from being launched from a bouncy house)

  3. Stephanie

    now THAT made my day!!! :)

  4. Lucinda

    I’d say that’s progress and you should take it as a victory even if on another day it might have been completely different. Two steps forward, one step back still means one step forward. Bask in the glory of a wonderful day. Enjoy the moment. Moments are all we have anyway.

  5. Katherine

    I like the minecraft birthday card. I have 3 minecraft addicts in the house, including my DH.

    Definitely progress for Monkey. Even if on another day, he doesn’t manage so well, he can remember that on this day, he did – and that he can again!

  6. Damsel

    What a wonderful day for both of you!!! So, so happy for you!

  7. Jackie

    I’m so happy for Monkey and for you. What ever steps he can take in the right direction should be a proud moment for you and him. I’m so glad that the party didn’t add to the Christmas crazy that has been happening for you. I hope you are feeling better and that you have continuted to remember your limitations during this busy season.

    Merry Christmas! Here’s hoping that the next party will turn out as awesome as this one.


  8. Tarrant

    Yay for Monkey and Hippie School! But…but…but…I know three kids who have broken their arms on those bouncy slide things WHILE well supervised. I pretty much regard them as the devil now.

  9. elz

    Hooray! for Luigi and Hipie School and birthday cake. Also, HATE those bouncy things. hate the bouncy party places even more.

  10. Karen R.

    Wonderful! And it was many years before my daughter would go anywhere near anything bouncy that was powered by a pump. Enjoy the birthday invites. Until my daughter entered a private sp-ed school, the only parties she was invited to came from close family friends. Those lovely, safe schools turned her into a very social person.

  11. Katie K.

    Yay!!! And it is SO progress.

  12. Arnebya

    This is really warming, reading about Monkey’s development and how he sometimes surprises you. I love that you can see/acknowledge past, present, and future behavior. Whether past parties have ended in crying fests or future parties end in downright slugfests, THIS party was a hit for him. And for you. Because it is both you and Hippie School who are helping Monkey grow.

  13. Karate Mom

    OK, number 1: I think that “Two steps forward, one step back still means one step forward.” is quite possible the BEST thing I’ve heard in a long time! I just love it!
    And, number 2: I’m sitting here, feeling so happy and excited for you and Monkey and the hugeness that all this post entails: the multiple invites, the letting the little kids go first for cake and knowing when he needs to leave and all the other things. And then I think, “Is it super weird that I’m relishing so much in the victories of this family that I don’t actually know in person? That I’m excited over these milestones from someone who kind of lives in my computer?” :)

  14. Tenessa

    Sweet! Good job, Monkey!

    My Aspie doesn’t do well in party scenarios either. It’s sad really, when he asks for a party for his birthday and the images of him shuttering up away inside himself or screaming at all and sundry rise up before me and I deny him. Maybe some day.

  15. Laura

    YAY MONKEY!!!! You ROCK!!!

  16. My Kids Mom

    I think you’re wrong. It wasn’t “happenstance as much as it is progress” — it was a data point on a climbing line. Yes, the line wavers, but it has clear upward progress. Take it for what it was. True Progress.

  17. RuthWells

    These moments will happen more and more frequently until the melt-down scenarios are the exception to the norm. And it will take you fully by surprise when he does have a rare melt-down, and you’ll catch yourself saying hey, we haven’t had one of these in a while! And that will feel GREAT.

    Yay for Monkey!

  18. Daisy

    Success is success. Go Monkey!

  19. ccr in MA

    I’m so impressed that Monkey knew himself enough to say, “I think I’ve probably had enough for today.” I’m still working on knowing that for myself in my 40s! Good for him, and you for having that day with him.

  20. StephLove

    That’s wonderful about the birthday party invitations and that the party went well.

    Can I ask what he did for his own birthdays during the years no-one was inviting him to parties? My own socially awkward son never gets many invitations, maybe a couple a year but he wants to have his own parties and we’re never sure whom to invite.

  21. Sarah

    Hooray for success! We’re in the 10 steps back phase with an aspie in my homeroom …
    On a happier note, I had to get my minecraft loving husband to translate the last note for me … and I laughed too (once he caught his breath enough to explain it!)

  22. carson

    Fabulous. Simply fabulous. I’m so proud of you.

  23. Headless Mom

    Well done, Monkey!

    I think the thing I like most about Hippie School are the opportunities that are opening up for him. Love it!

    Also? My son had a school assignment to make a turkey for display in the classroom from a template on plain white paper. He/we made a creeper turkey, complete with green feathers and conversation bubbles of Creeper sayings. OH! And it was out of duck tape cut in little.tiny.squares. Pretty hilarious. Maybe I need to post a pic of that.

  24. Brigitte

    Yay! It’s awesome that you post the successes, now you need to make yourself reread them whenever there’s a step backwards, so you can see that overall, there IS forewards progress! (and yay, Hippie School!)

  25. Aimee

    Yay Monkey! This just made my morning!!

  26. Andrea

    Love it!
    When we get a good day, I run around fist-pumping, yelling CANNIGETTAHALLELOOOOYAH!
    (usually in my head. mostly)

    Progress in little bites, it’s progress nonetheless!

  27. Heather

    First out-popping labia, and then a sweet Monkey story…what variety you have provided me with today, Mir :P I’m glad the party went well, and kudos to Monkey for managing so well! Now you have a positive example to refer to, as well, when future behavioural stuff comes up.

  28. Carrie

    yay! i’m very excited for monkey. and i cried because it made me hopeful that my very own monkey will one day be able to handle a party like that. thank you for sharing your life, it helps get thru the day.

  29. Beth

    Having had friends whose kids had different challenges when they were younger, I understand how huge a step this was for Monkey and for you. The inclusiveness and safe haven provided by Hippie School are amazing. I’m so happy for both of you that you found it!

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