I’ve been putting it off.  He was asked many times.  Shame on me.  Invitations to parties had often popped up in his take-home-folder from school.  One was for a skating party… Ugh.  Another was a drop off.  No way.  One brave mother was requesting a sleepover.  No chance.  But this invite was different.

I’d been to school with Dane.  I saw which classmate in particular he had taken a shine to.  Time after time his aide, Anna, brought my son home from school with endless stories of Gracen, the confidant little girl that lovingly Mother-Henned my baby boy on a regular basis.  Dane blushed at the mention of her name.  How could we not go?

She was having a mad scientist cupcake party – how cool!  We could handle that.  How hard could it be?  I’d wheel him in, he’d get a chance or two to participate and then we’d sneak out early when Dane undoubtedly and inexplicably decided it was time to go home, STAT.

The best laid plans…

A week before the party Dane refused to go.  I figured it would pass.  The day before the party, Dane refused to go.  It hadn’t passed.  He absolutely, positively, refused to go.  The day of the party, he cried so hard that we had to wheel him into his room for a little ‘quiet time’ (mostly for us!).

I sauntered in, unaffected, and said, “OK little man.  We’ve got five minutes.  What would you like to wear?”

“I’m not going.” He stated, oh so matter-of-factly.

“Yes, actually, you are.  If you’d like to tell me why you’re so against it at the moment I’d be glad to help you figure out a way to change you mind.” I retorted.

His lip puffed out, the crocodile tears welled up again.  He turned his head indignantly away from my gaze.

“What’s your deal???” I pushed.

“I just don’t like when they sing Happy Birthday.  It’s too loud.” He managed to squeak out.

“Oh brother.  That’s it?  Well I’ll plug you ears when they sing.”

Dane’s eyes lit up.  “You will???”

“Of course.  Now lets roll.” I said, hurriedly changing him into an adorable new sweater, the one I had been eagerly waiting for a good excuse to finally have him wear.

The snow and sleet came pouring down.  My husband swiftly helped load his wheelchair into the car and off we went, unsure of what was to come.

We rolled in, and to Dane’s delight, many familiar schoolmates greeted him, enthusiastically, at the front door.

I quickly scanned The Little Cupcake Shop.  Would there be enough room to push his wheelchair around?  Would he feel awkward or in the way?  Did the other parents have the classic ‘Oh, how sad.’ faces on?

What I was thrilled to see was an open, uncluttered area with plenty of space at the tables for his chair.  The parents immediately introduced themselves with sincere and welcoming smiles.  Gracen’s grandmother was quick to share stories of how she goes on and on about Dane at home.

I watched as Gracen swiftly won a quick battle with two other little boys to be Dane’s ‘official driver’ and assuredly grabbed Dane’s wheelchair, pushing him from table to table, making darn sure that he was included in every activity.  During a ‘Will it float?’ experiment, Gracen brought the bowl of salt water up to Dane so he could drop the starburst in all by himself.  She snatched up his clipboard and held his hand to help him fill out his predictions for the next experiment.

When they were finished Dane glowed with excitement and triumphantly declared that he had gotten all the answers right.

When the time came to sing, Dane plugged his ears but his smile remained.  He clapped when it was over and enjoyed a big chocolate cupcake with fluffy blue icing, his favorite color.  I had luckily remembered to bring a straw so he could drink his Kool-Aid like a big boy.  Gracen opened her gifts and Dane confidently whispered, “She is going to LOVE what I got her!”

IMG_6240When the party came to an end Dane said goodbye to all his friends, old and new, and we trudged through the slush to put him back in the car.  As I bent over to buckle down his wheelchair he looked up at me with sad, sad eyes.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“That went too fast.  It’s over too soon.”

I smiled and breathed a little sigh of relief.  “I know sweet pea.  So remember to enjoy these moments because all the greatest moments are over too soon.”