Right off the bat, let me just say that Jay’s party was a success. Going in, I wasn’t at all sure how it would be received. I knew he liked art, but a sip n’ paint party for a bunch of 10 year old boys?
The short version is that guests came, there was painting and gifts and cake. Everyone had a good time and then went home. The end.
But that’s never just it. Is it? There are always layers to a story. Many unseen, but important ingredients make up the finished product of a cake.
There was the moment one Mom commented on how impressed she was with the behavior of all the children. “I can’t believe all of them are being so calm; especially my boys” she said. She was right. We had 10 boys and 3 girls in an art studio. For 2 hours there was no yelling, no running, no wildness. Just kids painting and listening and taking pictures and having conversation and encouraging each other when there was a mess up and complimenting each other when they saw something particularly impressive and being patient when someone was not moving along as quickly as the rest.
When it was time for the kids to have their pizza and chips, they all sat at 1 big table together, in the back of the studio. The adults mingled towards the front of the studio chit chatting. I went to where the kids were so I could give them some info on their goody pails. As I walked to them I noticed they were engaged in some lively conversations. I don’t know what exactly they were all talking about. I felt almost rude invading their space. I said what I had to say and quickly vacated their area. I was so happy though that Jay was laughing and talking with friends. This is a dream come true for me. And that’s not me being dramatic. I literally spent years hoping and wishing that moments like this were possible for him.
There were sweet moments like when all the kids cheered for each other as their finished paintings were doused with glitter (for those who wanted glitter). There were sort of funny moments like when Ace loudly announced “I always avoided painting but now I see that I am really good at it.” He’s not humble, that one.
The night before the party I had given Jay a speech about how he had to say thank you no matter what gifts he gets. He asked me why was he supposed to lie and say he liked something even if he didn’t. We had a whole conversation about politeness vs lying. At the party, I realized my speech had not been necessary. Not for this occasion anyway. The gifts his friends brought were so HIM. Art supplies and Captain Underpants books and a Mr Poopy Pants figure and Roblox toys. I should have known he would only invite people who know him. He has a knack for finding his people. He said genuine and enthusiastic thank yous.
No-one bat an eye when it was cake cutting time and I said that since Jay is not a fan of the birthday song, we’d count backwards from 10 – in honour of him turning 10. When we got to 1 and everyone said Happy Birthday and he blew out his candles, I heard someone in the back say, “I like that idea. It’s like New Years Eve.”
The last thing I want to say is this:
It’s Martin Luther King Jr Day here in the USA. At Jays party, there were kids of different races, genders, body types, family make ups, physical abilities and neurology. NONE OF IT WAS A PROBLEM. Kids don’t care. Left to their own devices, kids are friends with kids who are nice to them and who respect them and who have shared interests and who are funny. It’s really that simple. In other words, they care about and judge people NOT by color or religion or nationality, but by the content of someone’s character. Let’s follow their example.