PJC has grown up so much in the past year. January through April were really difficult months as he was experiencing a flare from PANS (brain inflammation due to an immune response). He regressed in everything, had OCD and anxiety symptoms, and zero emotional regulation. It was so hard to watch him struggle. He went on quite a journey of learning about how to talk back to OCD and dealing with lot of probes and needles at the doctor’s office. However, the results are amazing. He is flourishing in his Kindergarten class, he is full of energy and mischief, he is getting braver everyday, and he is able to verbalize a lot of his big feelings. With such amazing growth, it felt right that we would really celebrate his 6th birthday.
Now PJC has been looking forward to and planning for this birthday all year. He had very strong feelings about the theme of his party and the decorations. Hopefully, it lived up to all of his expectations. To keep gatherings small, we decided to have two parties. The first in our home with our closest friends and the second just a small celebration with cupcakes and goody bags in his kindergarten class. For our party at home, he desperately wanted a Goonies party complete with treasure hunt and adventure. For his party at school, he wanted it to be his “favorite” movie, Ghostbusters. The irony is that he’s only seen Goonies once and was so scared of the “stiff” in the freezer that he’ll never watch it again. He also has NEVER seen Ghostbusters because he knows it will scare him, but he insists that it’s his favorite movie. But what PJC wants, he gets. Plus, Goonies was my favorite movie growing up, so I couldn’t wait to recreate it.
We started the Goonies party by having the parents drop the kids off on the beach. We reminded them that this was “their time” so it was just a kids party. The kids said good-bye to their families by doing the truffle shuffle. They then followed followed the clues to different places on the beach which led them eventually to our home (complete with “booty traps”) and finally they had to outrun the Fratellis (and their water balloons) to find One-eyed Willy’s treasure. Luckily, the forever amazing Teacher Emily signed on to help us corral all the kids during this adventure. The kids finished the celebration with homemade pizza, cupcakes and fireworks. Everyone said the fireworks were their favorite part so I guess next year we can just skip to that. Overall, I think the kids had a blast, and they embodied the “Goonies Never Say Die” spirit.
Because we couldn’t invite all of his classmates to his party, I promised him that I would make his school party special too. For this party, he wanted the theme to be his “favorite movie”, Ghostbusters. PJC loves to walk around singing the theme song and dressing up as a Ghostbuster. He had trouble accepting that it was just cupcakes instead of a full party, but we compromised on at least having a sign for the door announcing his birthday. His teacher played her ukulele as the kids all sang for him. Both times his friends sang “Happy Birthday” for him, he looked so pissed off. His sets his face in this grimace, but when I look closely, I can see that his eyes get a little teary. I think he becomes so overcome with emotion, and he tries to steel himself and hold it all in. His teacher and classmates were so sweet to celebrate him that day.
The celebration didn’t end there. On his actual birthday we had to drive into Panama City so we could fly out for our fall vacation the next day. Before going to PTY, we decided to spend the night in Playa Blanca, these high rise apartment resorts about an hour and a half outside the city. We specifically choose this place so he could wake up on his birthday and be in a place with awesome waterslides. The morning was almost a disaster though when we were the first ones in line for the waterslides only for him to be denied. The slides were for kids 8 and over! He was totally deflated. BC even tried to beg the lifeguard to make an exception since it was his birthday, a strong swimmer, and he is as tall as an 8 year old, but she refused. Looking for a way to salvage the morning, BC signed them up for tubing on the lagoon. It was just the thrill he needed. Both boys loved it and exclaimed that it was the most fun they had ever had. Then by some miracle the lifeguard had pity on us and told AJC that he could bring his brother on the big slide just once. PJC handled the fast speed like a champ and used his “big arms” to swim out of the way at the bottom to show the lifeguard he was worthy. So, the morning ended up being a success. When we arrived in PTY, we met some of his cousins for a small party at his favorite place- Chucky Cheese. It has been closed for two years due to COVID and he talks all the time about wanting to play the Jurassic Park game there. Another dream realized!
In Panama, the whole month of November is dedicated to celebrating the two independence holidays. Apparently, we decided to do the same with PJC’s birthday. It was one celebration after another, but we are so proud of our little Mowgli. He continues to grow into a curious and bright kiddo with a big heart. Happy 6th Birthday PJC!