Bright Eyes' birthday is coming up. Since he's understood the concept of parties, this has been a stress every year. The problem really has been that he hasn't actually had any friends of his own and of course, like every parent, I wanted him to have people at his party who liked and appreciated him. Also, he has not had a good track record with playing any sort of group game and hasn't really coped with even simple things like 'duck duck goose' up until now.
I solved it for the last three years by inviting families of children that we've known to a park for afternoon tea and a general unstructured play for a limited time. It seemed to work well, but this year he was quite big on the fact that he wanted his classmates from school to come. I decided to invite every boy in his class so that it would be quite big and social and not be a time when some children would be excluded.
The games and the venue were still difficult to decide on however. I looked at a book of non-competitive party games and tried to imagine Bright Eyes playing them, but I was coming up with visions of the birthday boy dissolving into tantrums and screams on the grass outside. I really don't want him to be embarrassed in front of his classmates at his own birthday party, so we finally decided to take the party to an indoor play place. No games required, they supply the food, and everyone can go crazy in their own way on the equipment. The cost is a bit more than I wanted to pay, especially for so many children, but it'll be worth it.
One cute episode was when Bright Eyes asked me if he could invite a six year old girl from school. "Really?" I asked. "Do you really want to invite her?"
"Oh yes," he said, "because we are the Best of Friends."
I'm hoping the birthday works out and that he and his classmates really do enjoy it and have a positive experience together.