So often bloggers, forum-users, and tweeters only blog, post or tweet when things are difficult. We reach out for support when times are tough, and often don’t shout about successes. Well, today’s post is a big positive shout-out about Mini’s success yesterday.
You see, yesterday we pulled off a surprise party for the NC’s parents (well, his dad was in on it, but surprise for his mum) as it’s their 40th wedding anniversary very soon. The NC, his sister and I had been planning this since February. Over the past couple of weeks we’ve had secret conversations with each other, exchanged memory sticks with scanned wedding photos on, had discussions over how to get the NC’s mum to the party without raising her suspicions and meetings about what food/drink to serve.
On Friday the NC took the day off work so I could spend virtually all day in the kitchen preparing masses of cakes for the afternoon tea party, so that was potential anxiety point number one – having daddy home on a non-weekend day. Mini coped fine, was good, fairly calm, did what he was asked, and had the kind of day that most parents are very happy with. Woo hoo! *punches the air*
He did ask why mummy was making so much cake, and I was honest, but economical with the truth and explained that it was Nanna and Grandad’s anniversary so I was making cake for them. Mini came to his own conclusions as to how they were going to get the cake – and assumed we would be going to their house, or his auntie’s. I did tell him that we wouldn’t be doing either of those, but he wouldn’t believe me!
Potential anxiety point number two was that Friday was also the day that we discovered Mini’s school shoes had big holes in the soles and needed replacing (despite still fitting), and so the NC had to take him shopping for new shoes, and also new PE kit. We all know school does give Mini some concerns and so buying uniform could (and nearly did) trigger a meltdown, as it reminded him about his impending return to school.
On Saturday we explained that actually we were having a surprise party and we’d hired a hall. At 9am we left home with a bootful of cake and hired crockery.
On the way there, we gently explained what would happen, who would be there, how long it would go on, and what he’d be able to do. We mentioned that lots of the people there would know who he was, but he probably wouldn’t remember or know them. We made it very very clear that at the end of the day, he’d be coming back home with us. And he seemed OK with that.
It was difficult for Mini and Dollop too as they had a long wait between arriving at the hall, and the first guests arriving early afternoon, but both behaved so well – helping daddy move chairs, putting table cloths on, hand out pins for the banners, they played together under the tables, they kept their baby cousin amused – rocking her car seat, pulling faces at her and talking to her, Mini even helped pump up the balloons. Both children ‘sampled’ the cakes I’d made – luckily I had extra icing left over to touch up the fingerprints (and gaping holes!)
Guests arrived. Mini hasn’t seen any of them for at least 2/3 years, and there were even some relatives that I’ve never met (and the NC and I have been together 11 years now!). The party coincided (or was it a coincidence??!) with a visit from my mother in law’s brother and his wife who live in Australia, and family and friends from all around the country were able to visit.
To start with Mini was a bit overwhelmed and although it was a bit strange seeing him so shy, it was lovely that he came to the NC and me for comfort, cuddles and reassurance….and Dollop too. After an hour or so, he settled down and was happy running around being a 5 year old – playing with balloons, eating chocolate cake, blowing bubbles and colouring in. Uncle G and Auntie J from Australia had brought presents for Dollop – a cuddly koala and Mini – an Aussie Rules football, so when I saw Mini getting a little bit anxious and bored, we walked down to the private field by the hall and had a game of catch.
It all went really well, food was eaten, tea was drunk, relatives who hadn’t seen each other for years chatted, and pictures were taken. Most importantly for us, the guests of honour were pleased, and Mini handled it all *really* well.
After the guests had gone, Mini was a little star helping to clear up – popping balloons, loading the car up, helping to
dispose of leftovers, and again making his little cousin smile. It was gone
6.30pm by the time the hall was cleared and tidy, so we had time for another kick
about at the field before heading home.
It must have been such a strange day for Mini with lots of stressful points – it was long, with mummy and daddy feeling slightly stressed and very busy, lots of strangers, a strange place, attention geared towards other people, things that he wasn’t allowed to touch, places he couldn’t go, different children to play with, so many things to think about and yet he coped so well. We’re very proud of both of our children, but particularly Mini for managing so well on such a strange day. And it gives me confidence that our approach now might be slightly different to other parents, but its working!