Today, Ian went to his first birthday party, for a boy in his 4K class. It was supposed to be at a pumpkin patch, but because of inclement weather it was moved inside. I personally was excited not to have to try and push Ian's wheelchair around a field of pumpkins, rain or no. An indoor setting would offer him more in the way of freedom - he'd be able to push himself around and go where he pleased. I had grand visions of him rolling after the other boys, keeping up with them and playing their games. Even though I knew this was too much to ask - both of 4 year old boys, and of Ian - I couldn't help but imagine it anyway.
This is what really happened: the boys ran around playing while Ian sat by me, insisted on touching my face, and said "Hi Mommy" over, and over, and over. The birthday boy is a great kid - he spent time talking with Ian and trying to make him laugh and feel included. Ian didn't seem to want any part of that - he just wanted to sit by me and watch them play. I think he really did want to talk to them, but wasn't able to say what he wanted to, so instead just said "Hi Mommy" again and again to compensate. When it was time to eat cookies and ice cream, the kids gathered at the kitchen table. Ian fled. He wheeled down the hallway to the front door and sat in front of it, jiggling the handle. Cookies and ice cream were out of the question - Ian has issues with a lot of foods, and doesn't like seeing others eat - so he removed himself from the situation. I asked him if he wanted to go home, and he said he didn't, but he also didn't want to be in the same room as ten kids who where shoveling ice cream and cookies into their mouths. He wouldn't even look at me while I sat with him by the door and ate his adorable pirate cookie for him.
The part of the party that Ian enjoyed the most was decorating a pumpkin. He chose a black marker to color his pumpkin, and would occasionally use his other hand to smear his lines, for effect. He wouldn't entertain the idea of using any other color except black, but he colored the pumpkin a long time, and it looked very Halloween-y when he was done. It's now sitting proudly on our front stoop.
Even though Ian couldn't keep up with the other boys at the party (and didn't really show any interest in doing so either), I'm still so happy that he was invited and had to chance to experience a peer birthday celebration. I'm glad there's a kid in Ian's class that he can call a friend, and who accepts him for who he is, challenges and all. Nothing bad happened - Ian didn't scream or cry or throw up - so if another kid happens to invite Ian to their birthday party in the future, I'll have many less qualms about letting him go.