This is the latter half of my last! Iron Gate article for the year.
Recently, I was grumping to my ever-patient partner about a friend who has never invited our family over, even though our kids are the same ages, and even though her family visits our home frequently. I couldn’t understand how she could ignore our lopsided relationship. My partner sighed, and said, "She probably doesn’t invite us over because she doesn’t know how to invite Leelo over."
You may laugh when I write that this had never occurred to me, but it is true. And it got me to thinking that perhaps this awkwardness and hesitance is common. So, please, if you would like to socialize with a family that includes a special needs child, simply ask the parent how to go about it. Sometimes families like ours need to make special arrangements such as bringing along a babysitter or aide, and sometimes the thought of bringing our child into an unfamiliar environment is too overwhelming--but more often than not, we’d be delighted.
I am not fishing, by the way. Our social calendar would tire Madonna's nanny. But I will write that one of my happiest memories from this past year was being invited to a friend’s home for the first time, for a New Year’s Eve party--and then having another friend with a special needs child show up, too. We bid goodbye to 2005 just like any other family, and it was lovely.