I spoke with Carla's mom this morning, and any anxiety I had about Bud going to Carla's party has melted away.
I wasn't sure how to ease into the conversation, so I just plunged right in when Carla's mom answered the phone. I introduced myself and thanked her for inviting Bud to the party. I asked if she knew Bud, and she said she did.
"And," I said, not sure how to proceed, "Do you know that he's autistic?"
"Yes, I do," she answered. "I mean, I don't know what his autism means for him exactly, but... Carla really wanted... well, she invited everyone in the class, and she... I do know about his autism, and you're a much better judge of whether or not... but I think that Carla and Bud have made a really nice connection, so..."
I began to realize that she wasn't sure why I called, and that maybe "do you know that he's autistic?" might have come out sounding like "why in the world did you invite him to a party, you insensitive clod?"
"No, no..." I stammered. "I think Carla and Bud really do have a great connection. He's very fond of her and he's delighted to be invited to the party... I just... uh..."
I could hear her voice relax on the other end of the phone. "Well, as I said I'm not sure what Bud's autism means for him exactly. Carla says that sometimes noises bother him?"
"That's true. Some noises. Sometimes."
"It could be loud. We're going to have a Hawaiian-themed party and we're going to learn the hula - Carla's idea - so we'll have music, and there will be lots of kids, but it's only the kids from class, so he'll know everyone. And we'll have pizza and cake and games. I don't know how that would be for him, but if there's anything we could do to make it easier..."
"Well, he's usually pretty good about knowing his limits. I explained the party to him - that it would be at Carla's house, that lots of kids would be there, that it would be noisy - and he didn't hesitate. He really wants to go."
"Do you think... Would it be okay if I stayed there with him?"
"Oh, of COURSE! I was going to suggest that. That would be great!"
"Then you can definitely count us in," I said, finally exhaling as I wrapped up the conversation. "Bud is really looking forward to it."
That's the truth. Bud really is looking forward to the party.
And, now, so am I.