Last night we hosted my son’s belated 12th birthday party. His birthday is just a few days before Christmas so it’s easier, on me, if we wait until the Christmas chaos is over before tackling his birthday. When he was little I used to plan elaborately themed parties – Scooby Doo, Rescue Heroes, Hot Wheels, Super Heroes, Lilo and Stitch, Harry Potter….you get the picture. There would be themed decorations, cake, take-home goodie bags, games, the whole kit and kaboodle. Kids in his class would talk about these parties for days afterward. Ahh, yes, it was fun, but that was then and this is now.
For the past few years I’ve been allowing him to invite 3 friends to sleep over (I use the word “sleep” here in the loosest of terms). I order pizza, the dessert of his choice and they play video games or watch movies, usually they do both simultaneously. Last night was no exception. At 2:30 am I finally got up and turned off the TV and told them to shut up and go to sleep. You see, my bedroom is next to the living room. My headboard is against the living room wall and they were very LOUD.
You see the problem I faced, or heard, was the voices. It would seem 12-old-year boys do not have inside voices. Perhaps it’s a skill they lose after Grade 3, perhaps with their new tones they need to relearn “inside voice”. This is the first year we’ve had the new tones as their voices have been changing. It’s interesting to hear the various stages that the individual boys are at. One boy sounds like his voice has already changed completely. Another boy still sounds the same as he did when he was 5 years old. The other two have moments when there’s a change and then “CRACK” there’s a bit of a squeak. They hate it, I think it’s funny.
The other interesting thing about Alexi’s friends is that 2 out of 3 of them are on medication for ADHD. So of the 4 young lads here last night, 3 of them are medicated. What are the odds that my son would befriend other kids with mental health issues? Apparently, pretty high. According to my friend and Children’s Mental Health Advocate, Gaby Wass, “like attracts like”. Gaby posed this question to numerous clinicians and the answer was a resounding “YES”.
Gaby explained that “It’s kind of like the hierarchical divisions in school: geeks with geeks, jocks with jocks, etc.”. In this case, kids with MHIs with other kids with MHIs. I guess that makes sense. When I was in high school all the different “cliques” had their own tables in the cafeteria. The smart kids sat at one table. The headbangers sat at another table. I sat at what I called the “left over” table. None of us really fit into any one clique so we congregated with one another. Kids with mental health issues are often social outcasts so perhaps they befriend each another because they have no other options. Maybe it’s because they understand each other better than the “normies” can – they share something that only they can understand.
It doesn’t really matter. What matters is my son has good friends who came and helped him celebrate his birthday. But the most important thing, from my viewpoint, is that they’re leaving in 23 minutes. Wooo-hooooo, 22 minutes, they’re leaving in 22 minutes!!! (I so need a nap)