The Invitation Never Arrived

His eyes welled up, he bit his lip, I could see the disappointment on his face. For the last 3 weeks my son Caleb has arrived home daily from school telling us about an upcoming Birthday party he was going to attend. This birthday was not just any ones birthday party it was a classmate that Caleb values and calls his best friend.

Let me back up and tell you a bit about Caleb. He would be the child that other moms and even children might consider awkward, odd, disconnected or even uncool. To us he is PERFECT. No, I’m not in denial he is our puzzle child and we have spent many hours and dollars trying to figure out the pieces to our 9 year old puzzle. I have had to learn the definitions of words and acronyms such as Encephalopathy, IEP, NOS, dyssymbolia, bihemispheric dysfunction, EEG, and a slew of other words that I never desired to learn. I have days I think it would be easier to have had a child with a physical handicap so people could SEE why he is who he is.

Not only have I received the unwanted education of medical and other terms, I have also come to the realization that not everyone will accept, love and be as compassionate towards my puzzle as I am. Then there are those Mom emotions that I used to be able to control, until my puzzle arrived into my world and I had to witness my little boys eyes welling up and the biting of his lip. Today was one of those days.

Today, we were on a school field trip when Caleb received the news that he was not invited to the PARTY he had been anticipating for the past 3 weeks. You might be thinking yep and life is not fair. But to Caleb this party was HUGE.

So, how do you explain to a 9 year old little boy that life is not always fair even if your friend told you all about his upcoming party and that you would be invited only to discover the reality is that the Invitation will never arrive? How do you handle standing by watching your child experience rejection? Experience the feeling of being left out?

Now, before you start sending me your comments about how he needs to buck up and move on, it was just a birthday party. Let me remind you that this is a little boy who usually doesn’t even realize life is not always fair because he just basically does not get IT. He never noticed that the Boy Scout Master forgot to race his pine wood derby car, it does not phase him one bit to sit alone eating his lunch or walking the playground alone but TODAY that is not the case.  Today he got IT. He felt the pain of rejection, the pain of disappointment and being left out. And I realized today this is just the FIRST of many more days ahead of the invitation not arriving and Caleb getting IT.

So, what has this mom learned through her little puzzle?

– To be an advocate for Children who just don’t fit the mold. The puzzle children as I like to call them.

-To not judge a mom by her child’s melt down moments. Maybe he too is a puzzle and the mom is doing the best job she can.

-To remember to show compassion to EVERY child. God made every piece of their puzzle.

-That every journey in motherhood is different.  Be accepting of others and their journey.

– There are plenty of tears ahead with raising kids especially our puzzle children.

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19 Responses

  1. I really feel for Caleb as I too had experiences like that growing up and know the pain that can cause. He is so fortunate to have a great support system at home.Please give him my love.

  2. I am right there with you!I am the aunt of a puzzle, a beautiful 7 yo boy who is one of the loves of my life.
    The sad part, as I have encounter it, is that sadly, the ones that make the mistake of putting them aside are the Adults!!! yeap! By the way the teachers and the other mothers behave toward him, the little ones around copy and follow.
    My sister has gone through all the medical terminology and seven years later no one really knows why but his bright brown eyes and the love he gives overshadow those starring eyes and annoying looks!
    Let’s love our puzzles, teach them that not everyone has the right picture in life, and THAT IS THEIR LOSS!! THEY WERE THE ONES deciding not to receive the wonderful gifts that we had to offer.
    God Bless Caleb, my Steven and all those beautiful puzzles in our lifes.
    Ha! and I will throw a bigger and better party and sent the mom of the brat an invitation that says: You are not invited! hahahaha

  3. As a mother of a puzzle also this story literally made me cry. I completely understand what it’s like to deal with these situations. Trying to hold it together while you logically explain life and the hand it deals you to your child, but then cry alone later on knowing the hardships and difficulties your child must endure daily. Life is tough and some kids are mean, but my children are great and I think each one of them is perfect.

  4. Thank you Trisha! What a beautifully written piece for all of us to step back and be compassionate before we judge!

    You are an AWESOME mom and we are so fortunate that you are willing to share your life and motherhood moments with us all 🙂

  5. I have a 9 year old puzzle boy myself (love that reference) and I feel your pain. It’s so hard to explain something that really should be simple when it’s not. It’s hard enough for a “normal” child to deal with rejection but puzzle children, I think, take it even harder.
    Hugs to Caleb!

  6. That breaks my heart…There’s no such thing as “just a birthday party” and that can be devastating to just about any kid. I feel for you and him. My kids are still too young to notice if they’re not invited to a party, but I’m certainly not looking forward to those days just for this reason. I can remember when I was little and I had a similar experience, my mom allowed me to plan a little slumber party for some friends, not only for the purposes of comforting me, but also as a teachable moment. I could only invite a couple people and she talked to me about how to be compassionate when inviting some people and not others. She didn’t want me to exclude the person who had excluded me (whether on purpose or not) so they were invited as well. I learned some of my greatest lessons about compassion from such moments of childhood heartache. Good luck…

  7. Trisha, while I could say that this was probably a one time occurance for Caleb, you know as well as I that it is not. My son Daniel is 24. I “knew” within 24 hours of his birth that something was not right. He looked normal, but something in my heart said, “something’s not right.” Even though he hit all the typical milestones as a baby, he was always on the upper end of the chart meaning, if babies are supposed to reach a certain point by 8 months he was at least that if not a little over. So everytime I took him to the Dr for a check up, the doc would say, everything looks fine. When I would express my concerns, he would say, don’t compare him to his brother (who was 3 years older). I wasn’t comparing him to his brother. I was comparing him to what I knew from reading and from observing other babies his age. The almost constant concerned look on Daniel’s face, saying, “I don’t know what I’m doing here, but I can tell you I don’t like it.” had me always looking for what I was doing wrong. Had the cold medicine the dr. gave me while I was pregnant damaged his little brain? Had the depression that set in on me after our move to Dallas, and the deaths of my grandmother and mother by the time he was 6 weeks old, caused him to mimick my facial expressions? I would leave the Dr.’s office saying, “see, you’re over-reacting.” but always with that lump in my throat telling me I wasn’t. I will skip all the diagnoses, and the alphabet soup of initials that followed once we finally found a doctor who believed me. You call them puzzles and I like that, as I like the puzzle symbol for Austism (which is what he was eventually diagnosed.) But I call them “crack kids”. I called them that before that term was really known for babies addicted to crack cocaine. I called them crack kids, because at least for Daniel, he could so easily just slip thru the cracks because like your Caleb, they don’t complain, because they typically don’t notice the looks, the neglect, the cutting remarks, so they slip. Fortunately, for Caleb as well as Daniel, they have mothers and fathers who advocate for them. Others will tell you just as you said, “you need to let him ‘grow up'” but there is no way for them to comprehend how much you would love to let that happen as it naturally does for most kids. I will just tell you to never stop, as I know you won’t. Don’t listen to people who tell you, never, he won’t, he can’t. Daniel is 24 and is the manager for a small postal store in our neighborhood. This fall, miracle of miracles (of course it hasn’t happened yet) he is going to get his own apartment and attend a school that is specifically for these high functioning young adults who just need a little extra help. He will be able to take some college courses as well. We are of course, apprehensive, but he is very excited and feels like it’s time. Time? Well, we’re going to try it. It will be the most heart-wrenching thing we have probably ever done, but God is our strength and hope. I will pray for you and Caleb as you are really just beginning this journey and I hope that you will pray for Daniel and that you will draw strength and encouragement from his successes.

  8. Wow, Trish what a powerful post. I too could of wrote this post, as I don’t have just one puzzle but two. My 10 year old son has been mocked and teased because he just doesn’t talk right or read wonderful yet. After much prayer and trepidation we are going to try to send him to church camp this summer, it has been a terrifying decision one I hope we won’t regret. My oldest daughter will be there too as the dean of the girls and I hope and pray that she will be able to keep a close eye on the situation.

    Just want to let you know that I’m praying right now for you, for your heart to heal. That might seem too BIG, but I know with God nothing is impossible. I would love to get together with you someday, just to talk about our puzzles, it’s good to share with others who can empathize. Pick a day to go to lunch, my treat, just let me know.

    Love in Christ,

    PS As you know my other puzzle is way too complicated to go into any kind of detail in this short little comment box, but I’m not giving up on him either.

  9. This story is the reason that I feel its awful when parents don’t invite all kids to a party from school. Blake has to invite all no matter what….and its so rude when they hand out invites infront of other kids….

    I am sorry Trisha but he has the best family ever…..

  10. I know the feeling if not in a different way. . . My Connor doesn’t have a lot of friends and we have moved around a lot so when he said he wanted to invite the whole class to the bowling alley for his birthday I bought invitations and drove them to the school to give to the teacher so that she could give them out to all the kids. Not a one came. No one called to say they couldn’t come, no one called to say the could. There was nothing. I didn’t know what to do so we bowled a few games, went home and had cake but when he was in bed asleep I cried and cried. I just feel as if I have not done enough for him so thanks for letting me atleast ramble.

  11. I am in tears! My son is only 9 months old, but I constantly think about what he is going to be like when he gets older. I remember moments like these from when I was a kid, and they stick with you.
    No matter what, I think it’s inexcusable for the parents of these children to not invite some kids, or just plain not show up to a party. What is that teaching their kids? Hugs to all of your kiddos.. And to all of their moms!

  12. Hugs to Caleb!!!!

    I’m still struggling with the fact that not everyone will love me….

    But that said, since the other boy told Caleb that he would be invited is there any chance the invitation was lost somehow? Is it worth a phone call to the other little boy’s mom just to check?

  13. My heart just broke reading this post. It’s hard as a mother to want to teach your children that life isn’t fair but protect them from all the bad stuff at the same time. My 6 year old is my puzzle child and things don’t seem to click for him no matter how many times he’s told and he has been a loner in his class throughout the year with not very many friends and I have had an incident like this before. It’s such a deep aching hurt to watch your child who was so excited about something forever feel left out and let down. In a way it’s almost like you feel let down as well. How well do you know the parents? And do the boys play together a lot? If so I think it would warrant asking why he wasn’t invited,especially if his friend kept telling him he was. Did you do anything special for him? I tend to try and compensate for the hurt sometimes, is that bad?

  14. WOW! I to have a puzzle child. However until reading your blog I myself did not realize my child was a puzzle child, so I am sure outsiders did not see him that way either. What an amazing way to desrcibe our children that have “special”ways of doing things and understanding things. Thank you for sharing. You have made me see things in a different way and perhaps I can teach other parents about “puzzle children”. maybe then our own puzzle kids won’t get hurt so much.

  15. What a wonderful post. I am sure every parent who reads it feels for Caleb and perhaps can relate experiences that sound similar. Thanks for the powerful message. Let us never forget that there is no “normal.” That diversity is seeing each other’s point of view.

  16. Excellent post. Thank you for sharing~~it helps the rest of us not feel so alone.

    Hugs to you & Caleb. I think you should send the mom the link to this post, maybe she'll rethink invitations the next time it comes around. It won't help Caleb now, but maybe it will help another child.

  17. Hi Trisha! Here is an interesting thing…South Puget Sound area has a world-reknowned Autism Center in our own backyard. It is the UW Autism Center. The founder is Geraldine Dawson, a pioneer in autism research. She has moved to another area of medicine now I think. The center diagnoses, researches, and treats kids! My pediatrician set me up there…other Dr. can do the same! If you have readers who want more info, you can call me or send me an email and I will get you the most current info available. I know from experience that this is a rough road! Through many, many days of teaching and training my son we know there is light at the end of the tunnel. My son is now in high school, thriving and has a bright future. During the early years, I felt so alone–I can’t begin to tell you. Nobody in my world had this experience, it wasn’t common. And even though we had a formal diagnosis from the World’s best Autism center (God is sooo good), went thru a weeks battery of neurological testing performed by top scientists I actually had people in my life tell me that it was a bunch of baloney-I didn’t know what I was talking about. You can imagine how isolated I felt–all the while trying to advocate and be the best mom I could be. It is a really wonderful thing that you have some ways of support…that will be so good for Caleb. I have been and will continue to pray for your family.

  18. So sad…this happened to us except my son was too young to notice. He is a bit of a puzzle himself with SPD issues.

    I wish there was a way to talk to the birthday boy and explain to him gently that it hurts people’s feelings when you talk about how fun something is going to be and then don’t invite them! But how to do it without looking like a mother bear? My age old dilemma!

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