Copyright © 2014 Stephen Hawley, all rights reserved.
E planned out a birthday party for Alice where we invited her entire class. This is actually a rule in her class: if you want to send invitations in to the class, you need to send in invitations for everyone. In preparation, E got Alice a nice party dress and put her hair into an up-do with little curls. Alice looked fabulous and was very, very excited. We prepared Alice by helping her learn how to properly greet her friends, politely thanking them for coming.
Nearly her entire class gave a positive RSVP for the party, held at a local movie theater to see Muppets Most Wanted and enjoy pizza, cake and ice cream in their party room. When the kids started arriving, it was a wonderful spectacle. Alice welcomed everyone warmly, politely, and genuinely and it was reciprocated. They brought gifts (for which Alice thanked them), shed their coats, grabbed cups of popcorn and went into the theater.
The party went well. It was lively with very few problems and a lot of happy kids with full bellies.
The kids said their good byes. I had several who said thank you to me as I was cleaning up, and a set of 5 insisted on a group hug with Alice before heading out. It was truly nice to see. Still, the best was yet to come. We chose to bring the gifts home to open instead of at the party. In a group this large with Alice’s troublesome fine motor, it would have taken a long time – likely more than the kids could stand to wait for and we also didn’t want anyone to feel badly if they felt that they had been one-upped. Alice wasn’t happy with this, but that’s how we learn.
When we got home, Alice changed and opened her presents. It was a joy. Alice enjoyed opening the gifts and was saying things like, “this is so sweet!” or “this is beautiful!” or “how nice!” Included in the presents were a number of personal, hand-made cards. These stand out:
When I see drawings like these coupled with the turnout, I know that the kids in Alice’s class are her friends because they show it in their words, actions and drawings both inside and outside the classroom. When this treatment moves from school to community, it touches me and makes me believe that her future in school won’t be empty.