Monday, March 18, 2013

Surprise Party!

My husband just turned 40 years old, and as a birthday present to him, I threw a surprise party at a local family restaurant.  My husband is not big on parties, or having attention drawn to himself, so I knew that I really had to keep the plans pretty low key.  I only invited his very closest friends, and family members that we spend a lot of time with.  He has many, many friends and co-workers, and his family is enormous, so planning the guest list was a challenge.  Those who we visit with on a regular basis, those who we tailgate at football, or go to ball games, those who he golfs with, and those who we spend all our holidays with, they were invited.  My husband, however, is a police officer, so he is very......shall we call it, nosy?  Part of his ingrained personality is to know everything that is going on at all times, so pulling off a surprise was a tall order.  The first rule I had to follow to make this happen was DONT TELL KATIE!  Katie cannot keep a secret if all her Doritos depended on it. 

I have tried, in the past, to entrust Katie with various secrets.  Sometimes she finds things out on accident, and I have to beg her to not tell, like presents for her sisters or special vacation plans.  When she knows something, however, her face will give her away.  If the secret is about you, as soon as she sees you, she will start giggling.  Then she will say, "I can't tell you something!", or "I have a secret!"  Half the time just saying that gets suspictions arose enough to spoil the fun.  Occasionally she will flat out blurt what she is supposed to be concealing.  Just blurt it right out, and start cracking up.  It would be hilarious if it wasn't so frustrating.  I had to use a lot of stealth and secrets around her to make the plans more fun.

I enlisted the help of my oldest daughter to help me plan and execute the party.  I asked her opinion on the cake, the location, and the decorations, and sent her with my parents to set up and greet the guests who arrived before us.  My youngest daughter (who also didn't know about the party) and Katie were to go with my husband and I up to the restaurant, under the pretense of meeting my parents for dinner.  I was so nervous all day, and I thought that my face or my nervous actions would give me away or make everyone suspicious.  Everything was going smoothly until we were just about to leave for the party.  Katie decided that she wanted to wear sweatpants!  Katie always loves to dress up, and she comes up with the craziest outfits, usually involving skirts and flipflops.  I therefore expected her to be excited about dressing up pretty.  My parents are the type of people that dress up to go out to eat, so I tried telling Katie that they would be dressed up too.  She told me, "grandma won't mind if I am wearing sweatpants."  I finally talked her into dressing up, and we left for the party.

When we arrived, the waitress (who was in on the plan), led us to the back room.  As the doors opened, and all of our family and friends yelled, "Surprise!", Katie was out of her mind.  I could not have paid a million dollars for her reaction.  She was laughing and jumping up and down and giggling.  Then she turned to me and said, "MOM! You did this!"  She kept pointing at me throughout the night, and saying I surprised her, I fooled her, I kept a secret.  Later, after talking with all of our guests, the group consensus was that even though the party was for my husband, it was Katie's party.  She went around the room, hugging everyone, talking to everyone, laughing with everyone.  She loved the cake, loved the balloons, loved the food, loved the company, and especially loved the suprise.

We are a simple family.  We like to spend Sundays together, we eat dinner at the kitchen table every night that we can.  We say our prayers and call our grandmas and take vacations to Disney.  We don't have a lot of money, but we are comfortable.  We spend a lot of time laughing, and wrestling on the living room floor.  I don't know if Autism made our family closer.  I don't know if Autism made us appreciate the little things in life, like surprise parties and pajama Saturdays.  I don't know if Autism made us love each other any more, or if it brought us closer together.  I just know that any time I see that look on Katie's face, when she is giggling and out of her mind excited, I know that any time she says something funny, I can look over at my husband, and he will look at me.  We don't even have to say anything, we both know.  Our Adventures in Autism have brought us more laughter and giggles and secret smiles than I could ever begin to tell you about.  I am glad that my husband shared his surprise party with Katie, because even though the party was about him, and for him, it was the highlight of Katie's life.

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