Sunday, December 23, 2007

Soak up the sun

Bud and I were invited to a Solstice Party on Friday night. It was a kid-friendly party, for which people were invited to wear yellow and orange and bring summery snacks and juices. The main activity of the evening centered around an outdoor bonfire on the snowy ground, with voices raised together to call back the sun.

I told Bud about the party on Thursday and gave him full control over the decision of whether or not to attend. He didn't even pause before he answered: he wanted to go. The Solstice Party was all he talked about for the next 24 hours, and he was so upbeat about it that I think he only half-listened when I told him what to expect.

As we drove toward the house on Friday night, though, Bud began to have second thoughts.

"I'll just wait in the car," Bud announced as we neared the driveway.

"No, I'd like to go in and see everyone," I said.

"I'll wait for you, Mama," he said. "In the car."

"Let's just give it a try, Bud," I said. "If you don't like it, we can go home."

"I don't like it," he said. But he climbed out of the car and walked with me to the door and seemed willing to give it all a chance.

As soon as the door opened, I wondered what I'd been thinking. Let me paint the picture for you:

This was the first time Bud had been out of the house since his surgery.

It was his regular bedtime.

There were not many people in attendance, but most of them were strangers to us.

The place was swarming with cousins. They were the sort of cousins that are old enough to walk, so while there were actually only four in attendance, it felt more like there were sixteen of them.

As we arrived, one of the cousins was crying.


We'd accidentally left Bud's iPod at home.

There were two older children there as well. They were crawling on the floor, barking and pretending to be dogs.

There were two real-life cats darting through the crowd.

Bud turned to me immediately and said, "I don't think so, Mom."

I guided him into the house, hoping that in a few minutes we'd all settle in a bit. I tried to direct Bud to the cookies, to the toys, to the people he knew. I put my hands over his ears. I let him crawl into my lap. And I prepared myself for the meltdown.

The meltdown never came, but Bud never settled in. He tried, but there was just too much, too many, too late, too far. He gave it 25 minutes and half a cookie, then came to me and said with authority, "It's time to go."

I got our coats and boots and we said our goodbyes as the other guests started eating their first snacks and waited for the party to get underway. Our friends, the hosts, rolled with it beautifully as if this had been the plan all along. I wondered briefly what their friends, the strangers, thought, then decided that people who go to Solstice Parties are probably predisposed to roll with this sort of thing as well.

As Bud and I crunched through the snow back to our car, he said brightly, "That was a great party!"

"It was a great party," I said. "Do you think you'd like to come back another time?"

"Yes," he said.

We drove home and got ready for bed, and Bud was asleep before our friends started calling back the sun.

The next morning, I woke to Bud's voice in my ear, asking, "Did you have fun at the party, Mama?"

"I sure did, Bud. Did you have fun at the party?"

"I had fun," he answered. "That was a great party."

As I lay in bed and thought about the way Bud managed the party and framed his memory of it, the lyrics of Sheryl Crow's "Soak up the Sun" filled my head:

"It's not having what you want,
t's wanting what you've got.
I'm gonna soak up the sun."

He's amazing, that boy. He gives me new perspective every day.

It's wanting what you've got.

I'm gonna soak up my son.


Maddy said...

I think you're right, that those in attendance would be the kind that would 'go with the flow.'

I'm just so glad that you both navigated the situation so well.
Best wishes

This is my calling card or link"Whittereronautism"which takes you straight to my new blog.

Marla said...

Wow. That sounds like it was handled very well. What is it with little kids crawling around and pretending to be dogs? This always seems to stress Maizie out too!

kristen spina said...

Yes, wow. The meltdown never came. He had a good time. It's wanting what you've got.

Merry Christmas to you and Bud! Merry and bright...

Jordan said...

I love your assessment of people at a Winter Solstice party. I'd agree - they'll roll with it! Perfect. This was a really sweet story. What a wonderful boy you have.

Angel The Alien said...

What a sweet kid... Twenty-five minutes and half a cookie was JUST enough for him to have a nice memory of a fun party!

Stimey said...

Oh, this made me so teary. For a lot of reasons. What a cool guy Bud sounds like. And what a cool and tuned-in mom you sound like.

kristina said...

It's a party, it's supposed to be fun for all invited----however long (25 minutes---bravo Bud!) for sure!

Jenn said...

Wow - Bud handled that beautifully!

Ange said...

Very nice. Beautiful ending. Unfortunately for us, most parties are not with people who roll with it... The meltdowns often come just because we feel pressured to stay to[ironically] 'keep the peace.'

Unknown said...

That's just lovely. Lovely son, lovely mom.

Ms. TK said...


Why is it that he always seems to know himself? His limits? He is amazing.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree...

I hope you both have a wonderful holiday.

Soak him up. Soak up the boy.

Casdok said...

And another wow!
Hope you have a lovely christmas!

Niksmom said...

Is it my imagination or has Bud gone through some major maturing and self-awareness shifts of late? First the hospital, now the party...I know it's not always like that but the moments when it is are brilliant and dazzling as the sun...your son. Merry Christmas to you both. xo

Beth Allums said...

Ah, you've done it again. Thank you for your eloquent post. Thanks for yet again bringing me in and letting me know I'm not out in the cold. I just love that Bud. And you for writing about him. Beautiful.

Club 166 said...

I'm with Niksmom. This sounds like MAJOR advances in Bud being able to recognize what is happening, what is GOING to happen, and self-calming.

Way to go, Bud! (and MOM-NOS)


p.s. Merry Christmas!

dmdm said...

This is my first peek at your blog... And, Boy! Can I relate! I want to catch up on your archives to see how old Bud is. He sounds so much like my 5yo Super-Guy, Rex.
On this post I want to say- first of all: How cool are you guys? A Solstice party?? I am jealous!! LOL, and Second: I have had the expierence of feeling disappointed by a 'short stay' somwhere yet then feeling proud and satisfied when I get a view of my son's reaction and attitude after the fact. Kudos and Happy Holidays! I'll be back! -Dani

MOM-NOS said...

Dani, welcome! I'm so glad you found your way here. Bud is eight years old and in second grade.

As for the Solstice party - it's not really us; we just have cool friends!

Rachel said...

Wow. :) Your son handled that incredibly well, you should be so proud of him (and of yourself for raising such a great kid!)

Anonymous said...

I never really thought about those lyrics that way- how inspiring!!! My cousin is autistic also, we have had many family parties so she is fairly used to large groups now. However, every once in awhile she has a meltdown. Thanks for sharing you story!