A woman was excitedly planning a birthday party for her 10-year-old son. She invited all of her son’s classmates to join him on his big day, except for one, which would prove to be a problematic decision.
Early Party Preparations
With her son’s 10th birthday approaching, the mother put a lot of thought into planning a memorable party for him. She took the proactive step of preparing invitations 2 weeks in advance to ensure everyone had ample time to make arrangements.
The Guest List
The son attended a small private school, and there were only 15 children in his class. They extended invitations to every classmate except 1 child, David.
David’s Special Situation
The mother explained why David was not invited: “He’s a high-functioning autistic child who was put in my son’s class to help him socialize and to help the other kids learn to not discriminate against autistic people. I heard that David had a meltdown at another party he was invited to because he wanted to open presents like the birthday boy, and when told no, he freaked out.” The mother clearly didn’t notice the irony of her discrimination against a child who her son was being taught not to discriminate against.
The mother had also considered the environment of the party as another reason to not invite David. The party would be held in a loud arcade full of flashing lights and loud noises, and she considered that this would likely be an overstimulating environment that would be uncomfortable for David.
Word spread quickly about David not being invited, eventually reaching his mother. “She called me last night and confronted me about this”, recounted the woman. “She told me that I am awful for excluding her son and that I’m teaching my son to discriminate.”
A Defensive Stance
The mother tried to explain her decision by mentioning the past incident and the party’s unsuitable environment for David. However, this comment only made matters worse: “She told me that I’m a terrible person for assuming what her son can and can’t do, before hanging up.”
Social Media Fallout
The next morning, the woman was browsing social media when she discovered a passive-aggressive post by David’s mother. It was clear that the post was in reference to her, and many parents had become engrossed in the debate.
Taking David’s Side
To the woman’s dismay, almost every parent was taking the side of David’s mother. “I just wanted my son to have a good party and didn’t mean anything by this”, the woman lamented.
The woman was distraught by the conflict that she had created. When she had excluded David, she only had his best interests in mind, worried that the party would cause him discomfort. However, she now realized the true consequences of her actions and the implications that they imposed on her and her son.
The woman headed online, posting her story anonymously and asking strangers for their views. She was faced with brutal facts from her readers; “This happened to my son A LOT when he was younger”, one reader remembered painfully. “It’s hurtful to deliberately exclude with no warning. Excluding on the basis of a disability isn’t something to teach your child.”
She Had Options
Many people pointed out that basic communication could have prevented this. “You could have just spoken to his parents about the environment and potential ways to mitigate stress”, one person pointed out. “It could have been a chance to teach your son to include people, but instead you taught him to exclude someone if their disability makes your fun time more difficult.”
A Wasted Lesson
Other readers focussed on how the woman’s actions were counteracting positive change in David’s life. “It’s sad that the school is trying to teach your son and his classmates lessons on acceptance and you are throwing that all to the wind”, stated another commenter.
Explain to the Birthday Boy
One reader pointed out the importance of the mother educating the birthday boy on her wrongdoings. “You should sit down with your kid and explain that you made a big mistake in not inviting this kid, that you’re not perfect, and that you’ll strive to do better in the future”, they suggested.
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