Saturday, January 26, 2013

Thoughts Before Making the Cake

Today is Lilli's ninth birthday. Everyone is still asleep except me, and I am blissfully enjoying my coffee in the quiet dawn. In a few minutes, I will begin to decorate Lilli's birthday cake.

Last year I wrote a tear jerking post about Lilli's birth and what a miracle she is. This year I have not felt like I have had any wise thoughts lately, or anything worthy of posting. Frankly I have been a little overwhelmed with the little stuff of life for the past few weeks. So no tissues needed with this one.

I wanted to write down that this year is yet another event with new perspective. This year I spent more time planning Lilli's birthday than I ever have before. That is because I now know that she really has an opinion about the little things. Lilli can tell me a few things now with her ipad, but it is still tough to get a lot of information and opinions at once. We started to plan a couple of months ago by asking her yes or no questions and giving her choices. Things with Lilli almost always take a long time.

So based on Lilli's preferences and requests, we are having a simple, Muppet-themed, family birthday party today. This is on a small scale/budget, mind you. I am definitely not that Pinterest mom that posted all about her kid's fabulous Muppet party with over-the-top (awesome, I must admit) Muppety decorations, favors, and food. No, I made our cheap Muppet decorations with cut-up Muppets Valentines Day cards and some scrap book paper. Chloe and Josh and I colored Muppet coloring sheets, and Lilli painted Kermit with Morgan's help. I will decorate a cake with some Muppet on the top after I post this...I'm thinking Beaker? She loves him. Lilli's cousins and aunts and uncles will drive down for the day and celebrate her birthday with us. It will be fun.

Little thoughts that enter my mind about today are...

What if Lilli gets overwhelmed and distances herself from everyone and just wants to sit in her room by herself and watch movies?
What if we try to get Lilli to open gifts and she pushes them away and runs out of the room?
What if Lilli doesn't outwardly act like she likes any of her gifts that her relatives get her, even if she does like them? 
What if she cries and pushes the ipad away when we try to get her to say thank you?
What if she pushes people away when they try to hug her and say happy birthday to her?
What if after we open her gifts for her, she won't pay attention to any of them and she goes back to playing with her old favorite toys?

...Because based on how things usually go, all of these things will probably happen at some point today. Lilli gets overwhelmed easily. It takes her awhile to begin to play with new toys because she has to learn how to play with them. We have to teach her how to play with something. She loves her cousins, but she will probably want her space today and leave the room. Even though it is her own birthday party. I know this because I know Lilli. But I have to brush these thoughts away and focus on the reason we are celebrating. It is her day.

I want anyone reading this to know that you should never take these kinds of things personally from a child that has autism. Her outward actions may be disappointing to others. But I know that at the end of the day, Lilli will be happy about her gifts. I know this because the gifts we got her are really cool. I know that she will be happy about the Muppet cake and decorations. I know this because...I just know. I know that however Lilli acts today, deep down she is just like any other kid. She just has all this surface stuff on the top that gets in the way. I've said it before, her autism gets in the way. I go to draw Muppets with icing. Lilli might glance at the cake I spend an hour decorating for her, for literally one second. She might even look at it sideways, because Lilli does not always make direct eye contact with people or things. A few years ago, I would have been hurt by the fact that she will not stand and study her birthday cake and decorations for long moments with a smile on her face. Now, I feel that if she even glances for a second and then walks away, I'll take it, and smile to myself. Because I know she will still appreciate it inside. And really, it is all for her. So that is the most important thing about today.

Chloe drew this awesome picture of Animal on our window.
Ahhh! Animal!!!


  1. I had to laugh about your worries about the cake. For Jack's 2nd (?) birthday I made this very detailed Elmo cake that I worked on for hours. He wouldn't eat it and could not have cared less about the fact that it was Elmo. I tried not to be upset but last year I bought his cake from the grocery store. He still didn't eat it. Boys. I may just do muffins this year :)

  2. you said "no tears"....wrong!

    We love you guys so much. and we miss you too!

    love to all -
    Bev, Rocky and Remington