We interrupt our regularly scheduled and more serious topic, on teaching skills for independence, to talk about something REALLY important, Jessie’s 17th birthday. She’s been telling me a lot lately, with a big smile on her face, “I’m growing up so fast.”
Ha! If you know Jessie, you know her birthday is a big, honkin’ deal. She finds it to be worth talking about almost every day. She loves her own birthday the most for sure, but truthfully, she loves celebrating everybody’s birthday.
One of her favorite things to do on Facebook (she calls it her social media) is to wish everyone happy birthday when she sees their special day in her notifications. She genuinely loves celebrating everyone’s birthday. She loves choosing cards, buying gifts, she loves everything about birthdays.
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Jessie wasn’t happy with me that I told her she couldn’t have a separate “friend” birthday party this year. Jordan’s birthday is two days after Jessie’s. Many years (before Jordan was married) we would have a party for Jessie with her friends, a party for Jordan with her friends and a family party for the two of them together. That’s a lot of partying. A lot of planning. And a lot of $$, even if you keep it as simple as possible. Even before some stressful uncertainty about Evan’s job came into play (as to when he would be starting to work in SC 7 hours away, instead of FL 3 hours away) I knew I just wasn’t up for that this year.
I had burst Jessie’s bubble several months in advance so she wouldn’t be anticipating something that wouldn’t happen. I told her we would have the one party for both girls with the family, and we would do something special the day of her birthday, but we wouldn’t have a separate “friend” party. We did last year for her 16th and will next year for her 18th, but this year mama was gonna save a tiny bit of her sanity. What little there is of that!
There is no need to start feeling sorry for Jessie. She was celebrated every single moment of her birthday in addition to the party we had with family the next day! A week later as I’m editing this post, a friend texted me that they wanted to stop by. They had baked her a cake that they know she loves. It has german chocolate layers with toasted coconut in the frosting. Jessie never liked coconut until she tried this cake for the first time and she fell in love with it. Her birthday has been thoroughly celebrated!
The night before her birthday, I asked if she thought she needed to get 17 spankings (licks) and of course she was horrified. I asked what about kisses? She smiled and giggled.
The morning of her birthday, I heard her awake before the time her alarm was set to go off. I went in and sang happy birthday to her, which she loved and giggled at. Then I proceeded to give her 17 kisses. Twice, all over her whole face.
Jessie LOVES to make plans. And change them. And talk about them. And talk about them some more.
I wouldn’t let her talk about the nitty-gritty details of the day of her birthday until sometime in July. Cause I knew it would be a daily discussion from that point on. In the days leading up to her birthday, she planned and schemed and changed her mind many times about the details of the day. That got a WEE bit stressful. She made plans with Jordan (her older sister) and Jordan’s mother in law, Marcia, and she would talk to each of them and tell them something different, then Jordan would call or text me for clarification. Finally, I had to tell her she couldn’t change her mind again once the plan for the day was set for about the 3rd time.
I realized afterward, that part of her dilemma was she wanted to plan her day so that she ate two meals out on her birthday. She didn’t want to wake up and eat at home, like any old ordinary day. She’s a princess like that. But, her birthday only comes once a year. Thank you, Jesus.
Jessie’s day was FULL, just like she likes it.
We met friends for lunch at Chick-Fil-A, Jessie’s choice, and her friend Gracey gave her a monogrammed t-shirt. Blue is Jessie’s favorite color and she loves monograms. She’s a true southern girl in that way.
After lunch, we met Jordan and Marcia, (this was Jessie’s request) at Kohl’s for some shopping. She loves Mrs. Marcia. Mrs. Marcia is one of those special people who really listens when Jessie talks and is interested in what she has to say. She goes along with any pretend plans and giggles right along with Jessie.
Jessie likes shopping at Kohl’s and she enjoys shopping for clothes for herself, but when she’s done, she’s ready to check out! No more dilly-dallying around. And that’s even with her getting the princess treatment with us pushing her in a wheelchair. (She walks just fine, but can’t enjoy shopping for as long as she wants to if she has to walk/stand the whole time.) We all tried on some clothes that day; Kohl’s was having a great sale. Jordan gave her birthday money and Jessie had money as she had been saving her allowance for a while. She picked out 2 dressier shirts and 2 tank tops that were on sale.
Any guesses as to how many of them were blue? Three of the 4. I’ve almost given up worrying about if she only wears blue. I can hardly convince her to buy any other color at the moment.
Jessie didn’t want me to stay with them.
In the big-day planning stage, she had said she didn’t want me to come along for her birthday with Jordan and Marcia. She carefully explained that she didn’t want to hurt my feelings. I could see on her face that she was worried that I would be upset with her. It did hurt my feelings a little, but I also understood why.
No matter how hard we try, when we get together, Jordan and I (or other adults) tend to monopolize the conversation. We try to include Jessie, but we spend a lot of time talking about things that she isn’t interested in. On her birthday, she didn’t want that to happen.
After our Kohl’s shopping, I left the girls shopping at Ross and went my own way to order them a Dairy Queen ice cream cake for their party with our family the next day. Jessie felt so grown up to be shopping with the other girls without mama. They shopped at Target, found lip gloss at Wal-Mart, and had supper at another of Jessie’s favorite restaurants, Things N Wings. Wherever Jessie goes, she always orders chicken fingers and fries. I make her eat a little wider variety at home, but at restaurants I just don’t fight that battle.
Jessie couldn’t wait to get home and excitedly show Daddy all her purchases. Isn’t it sweet how all girls want to do that? Me, Jordan (when she lived at home) and Jessie when we get home from shopping all take our purchases to show Jay….just some of us might choose not to disclose how much money we spent.
Our party with family.
Jordan got to choose the location, Cheddar’s. And Jessie chose ice cream cake over a baked cake. Jessie loves blue; Jordan likes pink and purple. I had the ice cream cake decorated in pink and blue and it ended up looking like it was for a baby shower. Oh, well. It tasted really good and this time they got the writing right. They had gotten Evan’s cake wrong on his birthday which had been both annoying and quite entertaining.
If you like onion rings, you should definitely order some next time you go to Cheddar’s! They’re sooo good.
She’s such a teenager.
These days, like a typical teenager, she loves to pick out her gifts. There is zero uncertainty in her mind about what she likes and doesn’t like. It makes it much easier for everyone if we let her pick it out herself. She was thrilled to get an Amazon card from Aunt Tami. She came home and immediately ordered a blue towel wrap , which she is calling a robe, for after her shower. She got cash from Aunt Debbie and Uncle Danny which she hasn’t spent yet, but she will and looks forward to it. Marcia let her pick a gift while they were shopping together and she chose a new make-up bag (to join the many others she owns) at Claire’s. Like her mama, the girl loves bags. Guess what color?
These days, all the stuff she still owns from the days when she loved hot pink and purple…she thinks they allll need a blue replacement. Her brother, Evan, bought her a blue portable phone charger, which she is thrilled about. When she is away from home she won’t have to worry about her phone dying anymore. Oh, the worries you have when you’re 17.
Unlike the days when we bought lots of toys that she might never play with, she really enjoys the gifts she picks and will mention how much she likes them for days in a row. It’s so sweet how thankful she is for new things when she gets them. I think it helps that we don’t buy a lot and she has to earn and spend her allowance. When she gets a gift she didn’t have to save for, she really appreciates it!
On a more serious note….
I’m really thankful that all 3 of my kids are so thoroughly celebrated by our extended family. They have such supportive aunts and uncles and they love their cousins. Jay has experienced job changes through the years and sometimes it has been hard to stay in our area and not take a job away from our hometown.
We feel it’s been such a benefit to all our kids that their aunts and uncles live close by and have attended dance recitals, baseball games, gymnastics competitions and football games. We already felt this way before, and when Jessie came along with Down syndrome, it intensified that feeling a little. We are thankful for the all the loud birthday parties through the years.
It’s been several days now since Jessie’s birthday. She told me tonight she’s a little sad about how long it is till her next birthday. Lord, help us. I couldn’t help myself, I told her Christmas will be here in 4 months. Soooo, I’ve probably started the Christmas talk. It makes her happy to have something fun to anticipate. And I like making her happy. Even if it makes me crazy. Jay says that’s a short trip.
Next week, we will finish up our series on skills for independence with talking about household chores and being involved in the day to day taking care of our home. The not-so-fun-but-necessary-stuff.
Till next week friends,