Erik Quinn: The Heart of a Family: Heart-Hangover #1584

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Heart-Hangover #1584

Ya know I'd like to keep my cheeks dry today
So stay with me and I'll have it made

-- "No Rain" (Blind Melon)

One of Erik's friends celebrated her 3rd birthday this weekend. We had a fabulous time with our friends at the party. I enjoyed getting a good dose of the sparkles, pastels, and glitter that come with having a little girl around. The snow came down in big, gorgeous flakes all afternoon, and it was very cozy inside. Erik sang "Happy Birthday" with as much emotion and energy as Whitney Houston singing the national anthem and clapped his hands together when the song concluded. He allowed me to steal frosting from his piece of cake, and in return I let him eat in peace without my fussing over him like I usually do. He is really enjoying his own friends now and asks about all of them. I no longer have to listen to him begging me to turn the car around when we are on the way to visit children his age. He was even interested in the opening of presents and was delighted to see a purple monster truck emerge from under layers of wrapping paper. He staged a miniature carjacking and took off with it for the nearest tile floor.

One day after the party, the familiar heart-hangover set in once again. Although it is much easier for me to attend children's birthday parties than it used to be, my response varies greatly these days. While I do just fine sometimes, on other occasions I feel like collapsing the next day. Some people are afraid of the dark. I just happen to be afraid of balloons, buttercream, and birthday candles. Last night I asked Brian if he had difficulty watching Erik interact with everyone, and he very quietly said yes.

That made me feel a little better.

Erik gets in faces, whether they are familiar to him or not. He knows no strangers. He says hello hundreds of times to everyone for at least an hour, which often generates slight irritation from other children. It shows on their faces, which I suddenly feel like slapping, although I suppose I can't blame them. This now keeps us from taking him to the adult functions we would have taken him to when he was younger. While everyone is generally very kind and seems to find Erik's personality delightful, it's hard for me to hear the laughter that goes with taking him anywhere. And I hear it EVERYWHERE. I know they aren't laughing AT Erik, really, but my mama bear protectiveness kicks in each and every time, and that's exhausting. I admit that sometimes I wish he could just blend in a bit. When he saw my friend's father come through the door at the party, he yelled, "HI, SANTA!" The room erupted in laughter, and I wanted to crawl under something and die.

Although we often have to intervene when he is completely inappropriate with a stranger or someone who might find his behavior uncomfortable or disruptive, it is now necessary to let him go in a safe environment and watch what happens, even if it makes me very nervous. It's incredibly difficult for me to do. I was a shy child. I did my best to blend in and not do anything to draw attention to myself unless I was completely at ease. Erik is my polar opposite that way, and it terrifies me. He is always completely comfortable around people. His personality is very unusual. His behavior is even more unusual. I guess "blending in" just isn't part of the plan for Erik.

It's obvious my kid couldn't hide his (halogen) light under a bushel if he tried.

So, after binging on cookies and opening a bottle of good wine by myself yesterday, I suppose I feel better. There's nothing like a sloppy, pathetic session of feeling sorry for myself and letting the emotions ebb and flow. Facing what I feel head on seems to make the next birthday party a little easier.

While I was writing today, I thought of the "Bee Girl" in this music video. I haven't seen it for years. I found it, and it was just what I needed. Watch the whole thing, dance, and enjoy.

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Blogger Tara said...

Nancy, I remember this video and definitely remember the bee girl. I still have a hard time with birthday parties too, but nothing like it used to be. I feel like it's getting better, but like you, I feel like I need to watch over Payton and keep her out of people's faces. She definitely is everything I never was.....I tell everyone she is bringing me out of my shell.
I can only imagine the energy and emotion Erik puts into singing Happy Birthday. I'd love to see it!

5:54 AM  
Blogger Amy said...

I am glad you posted about this. I find it darn near impossible to not cringe because while I am not trying to blend in, I do hear the same things over and over: "Wow she has a lot of energy", "wow she sure is a happy girl", "wow, what a pretty smile." It can be a struggle for me at times to keep on smiling and being polite instead of saying "Of course, she has frickin Williams syndrome!!!!!" Ok now that I got it out I feel better, lol. Merry merry and happy happy, love you.

7:41 AM  
Blogger Noel said...

I do love this song.
Abi is always someone who will never blend in. In fact, standing in the check out line at Walmart which seemed to stretch for miles...Abi's starts belting out " we wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy new Deer!" of course, the older women around me thought it was beautiful, I wanted to hide!

7:52 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

Bah! Blending in is over rated anyways! I know what you mean though. I was shy too. Caleb was in everyone's faces every time. It forced me to interact and pop that bubble that surrounded me. I have become more outgoing because of him. It is actually kind of nice. mostly.

8:28 AM  
Blogger Ava's Grandma Kim said...

We are right behind you, Nancy. People are already looking at Ava with those sideways glances...she thinks she is a WalMart greeter to the world. Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi! Hi! And that is just a fraction of her idiosyncrasies. I can only imagine what the future holds.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Ava Jewel Leilani said...

Ava has her first birthday party to attend on Jan 5 and I am very nervous. Even with her dance they are all so ahead of her but she loves it. I am having more issues with the adults and the looks. I wish I could have seen Erik singing! Enjoyed the video, made me wanna dance!

Merry Christmas
Hugs Anna & AvaJewel

8:04 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

Things seem to be getting more difficult on this end instead of easier. Noah's impulsiveness and "business" is at a new high. We are supposed to go to friends for new years. There will be children there his age and I dread it. He is like the energizer bunny on crack. I totally relate to not wanting to draw attention to myself which is impossible with our kids.

8:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, there was one child in the room who didn't once have the slightest bit of irritation on her face with Erik, the birthday girl. She thinks the sun rises and sets on her dear friend. Like Mother like daughter......I hope Christmas Eve is as relaxing as possible for you and will look forward to a visit soon. Chin up, young person.


10:05 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

OMG, I have always loved that song, but never saw the video! How cool! Makes total sense.

1:24 PM  
Blogger Penny said...

I, too have a hard time at birthday parties. Keith usually just finds a door and just opens and shuts it over and over. He could care less about anything else.

As far as adults and stares go, I have learned to ignore them. They truly do not bother me anymore. In fact, I have sometimes said, "What the hell are you looking at?" Mostly, I just ignore them and I feel no need to justify anything to them.

I don't know if it ever gets easier, but please know you are not alone. I think we all feel this way about parties and oher social events.

Hugs and have a Merry Christmas!

7:28 PM  

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