I brought Anna to a classmate's birthday party yesterday. It was held at a place with bouncy structures and I should note that, in general, I hate bouncy structures for I fear my kids will be trampled. For the past three years, we have held the girls' birthday party at a place with bouncy structures but we had a private room for party guests only and two employees who ensured that the safety rules were followed.
The party yesterday was held at a fairly newish place that I wasn't familiar with. As I was looking for driving directions online, I discovered that it is open to the public; attending a party simply means that we will be given free admission and there will be a private room for serving the cake. Well, it turns out that the place is tiny and there are only three bouncy structures. Two of them had walls too tall and too difficult for Anna to climb without assistance so I was the only parent stumbling into the obstacle course to boost her kid over the wall. The other structure was intended to be a twister game but all the kids, including Anna, were jumping on it. The problem was that, aside from an 18 inch tall border, there were no walls so technically, a kid could bounce over the border, fall three/four feet and land on the concrete floor. There were no rules posted and no one was enforcing anything. Anna almost fell out of that twister game. Another mom and I both gasped and lunged for her at the same time. We were too far away and wouldn't have been able to break her fall. After that, I told her that she had to stay in the middle.
I didn't aspire to be an overprotective, helicopter parent but if that's what others view me as, so be it. I'm responsible for my own children and if I feel that a situation is dangerous, I'm going to step in. Of course, what I view as dangerous may not seem dangerous to others. What is dangerous for Anna may not be dangerous for other kids.
So not only does Anna have to deal with differences in physical capabilities, there's the whole cathing/pull-ups issue. During the party, I had to bring her into the bathroom four times to clean her up as best I could. With about 40 minutes remaining (it was a 2 hour party) of party bounce time, Anna climbed out of the bounce house (this one had full netted walls) and told me that her pants were wet. This would mean that she leaked and her pull-up didn't catch it. Totally possible. I was feeling her pants, which didn't appear wet at all, when I boy walked up to us and asked, "Hey, did she pee her pants?"
"No, she didn't pee her pants," I replied and we headed for the bathroom. Again. Sometimes I'm so sad and angry that Anna has to deal with this. The day before, she missed 10 minutes of their gymnastics class because I had to bring her out to the van twice to clean her up and change her pull-up. She's old enough to know that this doesn't happen to anyone else in gymnastics or in her class.
By that point in the party, I needed to change her pull-up but didn't have any (long story) and frankly, she was kind of bored. How long can a kid stay entertained by jumping in the same small area while trying to avoid kids flying around? She had been in the real bounce house, which had a wall with a slide at the top. Well, most of the kids were running up the slide and jumping (4 feet or so down) into the bounce house. Yeah, real safe. It was like a mosh pit for little kids.
Anna mostly hung out with R who is also in her gymnastics class. At one point, another little girl had run over and said, "Come on, Anna," and off they all went into the obstacle course. Anna made it to the wall and was desperately attempting to climb it with little success. Some of her friends at the top were offering to grab her hands to help her up but she wasn't allowing them to help her. Unbeknownst to Anna, I had climbed into the course to boost her up over the wall. When I put my hands on her, she yelled out, "I don't need help. I don't need help." Then she turned and saw that it was me.
I have told several of the moms that I chat with how Anna has spina bifida. I don't really have an exact reason why but I think it's better to educate than to leave others guessing or speculating as to why Anna is the way that she is. Why is she still wearing a pull-up? Why can't she climb up a wall every other 5 year old can climb? Why does she have to go to the nurse's office at school?
Anna was a bit upset leaving the party a little early. I think she would have been a bit bummed regardless of when we left. Before the last bounce house bit, she had been resting with me in a chair so it's not like I was interrupting time with her friends. Another party was starting at that time so a slew of new, bigger kids had invaded the place. We were also close to a bathroom issue and I really wanted to be home before we hit code red. (We made it home just in time too.)
A few weeks ago, Allie asked, "Why did God make Anna with spina bifida?"
"She's special so she can do great things." I didn't know how else to answer. God questions are always difficult for me because I really don't know but in this case, I need to believe in something.