Coping with the Challenges, Family Life

The Birthday Party

“Mommy, I’m getting nervous.” That was my son, Gabriel. We were the only ones in the car. Daddy was at work, and siblings were just dropped off at the grandparents’ house. We were on our way to a boys’ birthday party, running late from getting lost in an unfamiliar neighborhood. I assured him that I would stay with him at the party. We rang the doorbell, but the house was quiet. As I guessed, everyone had gathered in the backyard. The boys, all around 6 to 7 years old, were running around playing with toy guns. Gabriel stuck with me, like a fly on a wall.

Army MenHe became interested in a bag of army men toys and began to set up his soldiers on the patio table. A couple of the boys joined him, and I quickly whispered in his ear, “It’s ok if they move things around. They just want to play with the soldiers too.” Thankfully, he wasn’t rattled by this “interruption” to his little solitary game. And, this gave me a bit of time to chat with the other mothers, who stayed at the party.

However, it wasn’t long before Gabriel was tugging on my shirt, asking me to play with him. So, I played with him. We set up the army men for battle. Then, I showed him how to hit the birdie with the badminton racquet. Then, we tried out the croquet set. And all along, my heart ached for my son, fighting back tears as I tried to savor the moment with him, while attempting to ignore how heart-broken I was that he couldn’t be around other boys his age. I gently tried to encourage him, “Why don’t you join those boys over there, playing catch?” Hardly looking away from those little soldiers, he said, “They look kinda busy.” I certainly didn’t want to force him and give him bad memories of this birthday party.

Gabriel is of the age when boys begin forming friendships and when they want a boys-only party or even sleepovers, but Gabriel just doesn’t seem to fit in with anyone … not right now. Maybe he’ll always be the quirky kid. That’s ok. I’ve had my share of feeling different, so has my husband. But I sense that Gabriel is becoming more aware of it though, as he expresses his anxiety of being left alone without us by his side. So, birthday parties is a rare thing for my son, unless it is for someone in the family. Don’t get me wrong. He absolutely loves birthday parties! And he enjoyed the one we went to, especially the pie-eating contest and the water balloon toss. But he enjoyed it alone, though he was surrounded by boys, who were equally excited.

Of course, I would want a friend for Gabriel, someone who would reach out to him without any coaxing, who simply likes Gabriel for who he is. I pray that God would bring someone like that for my son. But more than that, I desire that he finds his best friend in Jesus Christ. He is the friend who will be there at every birthday party, who will gladly reach out to him, who will love him unconditionally, who will never be too busy for him, and who will never leave him nor forsake him.


(Photo credit: Kapungo)

47 thoughts on “The Birthday Party”

  1. I once paid my son $20 (after the outing) to go to the zoo on a school field trip. The investment was worth it because he made a friend and actually enjoyed himself too!

  2. Gabriel had two best friends at that party. Jesus and you! I know you wish for a child his age. His time will come. He is blessed to have a mother with such a tender heart. As a quirky kid myself, and often a quirky adult, I truly appreciate the love you have for your child.

  3. I re-blogged your story. I have a special needs nephew and this sounds sooooooooooooo much like him.
    My daughter was also a teacher for autistic children and is now Assistant Program Director for physically and mentally handicapped adults.

    1. Thank you for sharing my post! My desire for this blog has always been that it would be a place where others can find biblical encouragement. Of course, there’s a special place in my heart for those caring for special needs children. Feel free to share any other posts that you think would encourage others. God bless!

      1. Thank you for allowing it to be re-blogged.
        I know how much biblical encouragement is to almost everyone. Thank you for your blogs.
        God’s Blessing for the weekend (and all of your life!).

  4. Amen! My prayer every night when I check on my kids before heading to bed is that they will love Jesus and stand firm for Him – even when it’s hard. 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by my blog!

    1. And thanks for stopping by mine! And you’re right … our kids may face some really tough times ahead that we can’t shield them from. I pray they would have the joy of knowing Christ.

  5. I can so appreciate your pain and concern. Our J is much like your son. I have learned not to mix my emotions with his. He doesn’t seem to either want or need friends. I don’t understand it but can accept it. And oh what joy, when he chooses me to play with.

    1. Yes, it was sweet that he wanted me to play with him. He still does many cute things that other boys his age have already outgrown, and I absolutely love it! I will gladly be his friend! Thank you so much for your sweet words, my friend!

  6. I just want to encourage you with a swift but gentle kick in the pants. You are not being punished for anything you’ve done. God has a plan for your son separate and apart from you and there is nothing you can do to sabotage it so relax… Secondly, I also have a special needs son and I learned early on that feeling sorry for him was a dangerous thing to do, as it undermined his potential while it appeared to be what a “good mother” would and should do. Trust me that the Lord will give you insight into him – where his gifts lie (and believe me, he has them), and what you can do to ease him out of his shell. You’re right about not pushing him but at the same time, I believe that once you see his potential and the gifts and strengths that lie within him, you may need to nudge him into things just a little. Hold your head up knowing that you are a child of God; that your son is a child of God; and that while you may not be perfect, (and neither are any of the rest of us!) you are absolutely forgivenn and have at your disposal a power that can cause you to overcome and walk above fear, doubt, guilt and anything else Satan wishes to hurl your way. Be encouraged – he’ll find his way and the Lord will be leading the charge!

    1. Thank you for your encouragement! I’m discovering so many wonderful things in my son that the world has yet to see. And, I am excited to see God unfold His plans for him.

  7. Gentle hugs from one mom to another. One of my sons has social struggles and has found he relates well through the topic of music. So now he hangs out with other guys who play instruments. ( It gets noisy here – but it’s happy noise!) Nothing hurts a mom more than when her kids are hurting. xo I hope that your family finds out what works for you. Good on you for loving your son in word and deed. It will pay off greatly.

    Blessings ~ Wendy

  8. I would just like to point out that when your son tugged at you to play with him, you walked away from your conversation and focused on him. Not every momma would have done the same. Too many times we shrug of our children’s request for our attention because we’d rather have mommy time. I am thankful for your example 🙂

    1. Thank you for writing this! I honestly did not think about this at the time because there was a battle waging in my own mind between a motherly concern for my son and my own selfishness of wishing I could be like the other moms. You’re right, though … Not all moms would’ve done that. And there are plenty of other times when I, too, have failed to choose the better thing. It was God’s kindness for allowing things to turn out the way they did.

  9. Never cease to pray for Gabriel, and God will reward you by giving Gabriel the new birth at the right time. Love reading these articles as I follow your son’s story. We must never cease to pray for our children

  10. Thank you for sharing your experience. You are tuned into your child and that is admirable. As a Mom, its easy to get caught up in the busyness of all we have to do. We forget to take the time to just play with our children. Good for you that you play with hum and just let him be who he is. I pray as my boys grow that I will love and appreciate them for who they truly are instead of trying to force them to be someone I or others think they should be.

    1. Thank you so much for visiting and leaving some kind words for me to read! It is easy to get caught up in busy days and endless to-do lists. I’ve been guilty of that too many times to count. But I know these early years will go so fast, and I hate to look back on them with a lot of regrets.

  11. The ‘mom’ in me had tears in my eyes reading this. Your son will be rich in company if he has a relationship with Christ. And God may well have plans to bless him with earthly friends too. One of the things I love about God is that He loves to surprise His children.

  12. My sister, my heart goes out to you, but not so that you can drown yourself in self-pity. Being in the world we must realize we will come up against such things as you are going through, but Jesus promised us His peace. Peace, not like the world gives, but peace in the midst of the storm. I also have a son who has grave disabilities, but I am learning, just like you, to trust the Lord for him. After all, He loves him more than I! Much love in Christ.

    1. Thank you so much for your encouraging words! The peace of Christ is more than enough! When I start looking too much at the turmoil within my heart and mind, I lose sight of that peace that has already been freely given to me. God bless you!

  13. Oh, this just makes my heart ache for you. You seem like such a wonderful mother who has a wonderful son. As a teacher I know what it’s like to see kids struggling with the social dynamic, but that’s nothing compared to what it’s like for you. Love what you said at the end about Jesus loving him for who he is. But will pray with you for Gabriel, that God will bring him a special friend x

    1. I honestly feel like the most horrible mom sometimes. If my walls could speak … But, I just want to rest in God’s forgiveness and grace. I know I’m not perfect, but I do love my son, and Jesus loves him far more than I can. Thank you for your prayers.

      1. I think every mom feels that way sometimes– EVERY mom. God knows our hearts though- knows them unlike any other & He knows we love HIM and want to bring Him glory and do the best we can. I think he does in fact consider our frame. I read your blog, and I am encouraged to be better! Lets all be thankful our walls can’t talk! 🙂 You are a mom I look up to!

        1. Yes, I’m thankful our walls are silent. It’s enough that God knows the depth of our failures and sin, and still, He loves us! Thank you for reminding me that I’m not alone.

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