We try to keep everything low-pressure for Charlie, in recognition of the fact that just the idea of the party, let alone the realities of guests and a table loaded with food, can weigh on him. We invited a number of our friends, all of whom have been very aware over the years of Charlie's struggles and sensitivities and would understand when we ducked out of a conversation.. Having my parents around was a huge huge help -- they picked up a big order of Chinese noodles and dim sum and, with four adults, someone always had an ear out for Charlie
He wanted a walk on waking, followed by a 12-mile bike ride. Coming home to a pan of shrimp lo mein and a pan of shrimp chow fun was an obvious treat and, while in the past I would have said 'wait for the guests!,' a birthday boy should get to eat his birthday noodles when he's ready (and hungry).
Our good friend Hal endured non-moving NJ Turnpike traffic on a drive up from Philadelphia. Charlie came running down the stairs when he arrived and ran smiling around the house. Hal had to head back home early but did see Charlie off with Jim and a friend, Ed, on bike ride #2.
Our other friends appeared and we had a nice little crowd on our back deck which is generally underused, Charlie having always preferred the front yard. (I'm probably in the back yard the most these days as I routinely cross it a few times to get the bikes from the yellow shed.)
Charlie spent a little time in his room after the second ride but was wary of so many voices at once (especially if you consider that it's rare for anyone but the three of us to be in our house). He and I went on a walk in the early evening during which we ran into our next-door neighbor and I noted that we were taking 'taking a break from our party'; she laughed in understanding. Then I took a smiling Charlie to get a burrito.
I had been sure to place his lunchboxes in the refrigerator so he would know that, party and all, he had school the next day. Charlie picked up his iPad and paced the L of the kitchen, dining room and living room. At first he had on Disney, then the Kinks ('Shangri-La'), then he started walking more briskly and running in spurts and his face started to get more set (i.e., frozen), and then he turned on the Pogues and his running got more intense and I went to find Jim to confer.
Jim stopped in mid-conversation to say he and Charlie would go on a bike ride.
So they did a total of 36 miles on Sunday, biking their good-byes to our guests -- all of whom we are thanking profusely for helping to make Charlie's 15th birthday a memorable, pretty much peaceful-easy feeling, and very good-feelinged, celebration.
And yes, after 36 miles of bike riding and 2 1/2 of walking, Charlie was ready to climb into bed at 10pm, and soon asleep.