You see the pictures on my instagram – a busy, happy and healthy brood of boys. What those pictures don’t tell you, amongst other things like the dirty laundry piled just out of shot, is that one of those beautiful boys believes he’s “not good enough”! Everyday he battles with with painfully low self-esteem, emotions he’s not equipped to control, anger that rages out of frustration to communicate effectively, and ostracisation.
But I’m not going to write about H’s anger issues as there’s no diagnosis, no cure and, at times, everyone around him is floundering for answers to help this little boy. Instead, I want to share a little of my frustration and anger – as unlike H, I’m able to highlight the exact things that make me seeth (poor Mr Only Girl!!).
Suffering from rock-bottom self-esteem has always left H looking externally for approval, none more so than that of his peers. In a bid to make/keep friends he always asked for the biggest, bestest birthday party, inviting as many people as he could remember. The planning would start 6 months in advance: the venue, the theme, the cake, the invitations – he’d make list after list of his ideal day, only comparable to a bride-zilla high on smell of luxury, letter-pressed stationary. I was always happy to go along with it, as it was something he enjoyed planning and, as a mother to a child continually alienating himself from friends due to volatility, I just wanted him to feel part of something special.
The BBC’s A-Word (haven’t watched it yet? DO!!) highlighted an issue many “different” children at school suffer from – the party invitations stop coming! The parties don’t stop – you see the invites being handed out, the excited kids being mini-bused off, the pictures on Facebook; it’s just they’d rather not have my child there – for fear he might lash out, become uncontrollable or make a scene! The parents don’t have the time to consider that in the last 3 years he’s come on leaps and bounds, that he would be the life and soul of your party and be very polite all the while. In fairness, why take this risk?! When I ask, “Do you mind you didn’t go to X’s party?” he replies, “No, it’s ok. Can I have him over to play soon instead?” But whilst this breaks my heart to hear his desperation to be “part of the gang”, this still wasn’t my truly gut-wrenching moment as a mother…
H had been planning his cinema party for 4 months, the Ninja Turtles Movie was coming out and he knew the 4 friends he wanted to join him on his popcorn gorging frenzy. I sent out the invites by text to all the chosen friends, as instructed by H. Then, sat and watched not only the original 4, but another 4 make shit excuses as to why their son wasn’t available for 4 hours on a rainy November afternoon. The lure of free cinema, food and childcare wasn’t enough to convince them to take a chance on H. In their eyes he was trouble – worth being avoided! I shouted, I cried, I ranted and I sobbed some more – it still makes me breakdown into a blubbering mess. When growing up we’re constantly prepared for rejection – be it school auditions, team try-outs, beauty pageants – but no-one, and I mean not a single soul, can prepare you for how you’ll feel if your own child is rejected.
But that “angry” child didn’t cry, didn’t shout, didn’t lash out – he took it in (probably bottled it up for another day at counselling), turned to me and said “I wanted to go with my brothers anyway!”.
Aw this breaks my heart. Poor little guy (and poor you!). So lovely that he has his brothers and I hope things get better for him soon. Kids (and parents it would seem) can be so cruel. X
Ah that must be gut wrenching 🙁 so sorry for your little one, it’s not easy. I had a similar problem when I was a kid too – not many ‘friends’ turned up I my birthdays. I suppose you just accept it as it is (no other way really) and you will learn to know better who your real friends are.
This makes me really sad but mostly because other parents are teaching their children that it is okay not to be accepting to everyone’s uniqueness. My daughter is 4 years old and not many invites yet but I know how important it is to celebrate your bday when younger so we will always RSVP “yes”. If there is anything I could do for you or your son, please tell me.
Heartbreaking for you all. I wish there was something I could say to make it better. But what an amazing response from your boy! It’s a long road but you will get there together xxx
It is heartbreaking, but you have such an amazing son bless him x
What a boy!! You must be so proud that he could be so grown up.
I only have one little girl and she’s only two at the moment. But I can only imagine how it might feel when the day comes. xXx
I’m so sorry, this truly breaks my heart. I can remember having a friend at primary school who was in a wheelchair and I invited her to my birthday party but mum had to explain to me why she wouldn’t be able to go on row bouncy castle! I’ve worked in special needs education for a decade and desperately hope that I can raise my children to be inclusive of all children xx
This highlights how cruel people can be! I too watched “The A Word” and felt so angry when Joe was the only little boy excluded from the party. This happened to my boy when he was in his first year at school … One mother invited the whole class of 29 children to her sons party but left my boy off the list … The difference I suppose is that their was absolutely no reason for it … other than “well, he doesn’t really have anything in common with my son” (The response she gave when I approached her to let her know how excluded she had made him feel!) I think that it’s often the parents who make these decisions and not the children …. My son is now a happy, healthy 12 year old with a great group of friends and I hope I’ve taught him that unfortunately the world is full of people who don’t behave in a fair way. Your boy sounds like he has a fabulous attitude and because of that he will go far (and I bet the cinema was far more fun with his brothers anyway!!!) xx
I wish you lived near me. My son would have gone to your’s party!
I hate this so much. Parents are the absolute worst creatures imaginable sometimes.
Hope he enjoyed his birthday with his brothers. He’s super lucky to have them at least! xxx
This is heart-breaking. It’s so hard sending your little people in to the world even without this sort of thing happening. What is with those parents?! I have two boys, almost 3 and 1 and this is every parent’s fear. I really hope it gets better soon. Good luck (love your IG feed by the way!) xx
Oh I know where you are coming from. My girl rarely gets invited to parties and to be honest, it is mostly the parents that stand off I reckon the kids think popcorn n movie yay!!!. But they probably don’t know about it as parents have the excuses. Last year we had a small build a bear party. Year before I put her off having one as I didn’t want to buy her friends stuff when she doesn’t get invited. We had a Fab family time instead.
This is just heart breaking 🙁 I don’t know how so many parents have the heart to let a little boy down on his birthday like that – and as for not inviting him that’s awful too, he’s a child for goodness sakes and its a couple hours. Even if he didn’t happen to be on top form would it really be the end of the world for them?!
I’m not at school age with my children yet but I really want to remember to try hard not to be that parent. I hope your boy had a wonderful time with his brothers.
If anything, I think it’s taught me to always be understanding of other people’s children – they might appear to be “acting up” but there’s always the possibility there’s something deeper going on. In fact, he had a wicked time with his brothers – thank you xxx
This is heartbreaking. What a brave response from him but, oh, I feel for you both so much.
Thanks Sarah – hope you and your little one are feeling a little better x
As I mum of 4 boys, I understand how you feel. This has happened to 2 of my son’s, it hurts and also for the child. It’s great that he has all his brothers and great parents to enjoy his special day. I now offer my boys an extra present or a party, they usually go for the present! Then we just have a family party. It’s a shame life is so cruel at times.
Heartbreaking to read ? My 5 year old daughter is often excluded from parties as she’s very introverted and quiet. I remember been left out when I was at primary school and it breaks my heart to see it happening to my daughter. However I have the foresight to know the ending, I now couldn’t care less about those who want to exclude me. I have my children, my hubby and my family and I’m very happy. It makes you a stronger person. I’m sure your lad had a fab time with his brothers x
poor guy. Last year was the first time we invited my daughter’s school friends to her birthday. My biggest fear leading up to the day was that no one would show. Only a few did, but it was still a huge relief
For those reading this I am one of the coach’s at H’s football team and had to write my thoughts on here…
When H came to our team he could / and still can be difficult at times (what child isn’t?) however rather than remove him from the team and stop him playing the game he loves we decided to work with him; we have and continue to give our time to try understand why he has a melt down, what makes him tick (apart from football) and take time to explain what is and isn’t acceptable.
In the past year the improvement we have seen from H has been second to none; he has a loving caring nature and you’ll regularly see him put his arm around the other boys when their injured to console them and offer them his support.
My son also plays for the team and recently we had a spare ticket to the football; his choice was to take H and also invite him for a sleepover. His behaviour was impeccable, he said please and thank you and it was a pleasure to spend the day with him.
I regularly read the blog and don’t normally comment but I hope that some of the parents read this and realise that underneath everything there is a boy with a caring nature who loves having fun with his friends and that they’ll think twice and give him a chance!
He’s always welcome at our house!
I know this is old but I’ve read today from your instapost. So heart breaking. My eldest has aspergers and I hear you in the dwindling invites and everything else that follows. Big love. You have an awesome son xx