Saturday, May 25, 2019
Family LifeParenting

Robert’s Awesome 16th Birthday!!!

When I turned 16, my birthday present was coming home from the hospital in an ambulance. I had endured 14 hours of surgery and a ten day hospital visit, which led to further complications once I returned home following Spinal Fusion surgery. I remember feeling happy to be home, so I could go to sleep. My Aunt and cousins were there, but I was far too tired to enjoy much of my birthday. Subsequently, all the complications I faced in the following months dwarfed my happiness in returning home. Needless to say, my 16th birthday wasn’t the special day most teens dream of, so I knew that when my son turned 16, things were going to be different.

It’s hard being a kid and having any form of special needs. Robert, like me, is a person with a disability, only his are not physical. He has Asperger’s Syndrome, a social disability, and Bi Polar Disorder, a mental disability. Though you cannot tell he has any disability by looking at him, if you hang around him, it does not take long to realize he is socially awkward. He is also lovable, helpful and caring, but most people his age do not stick around long enough to see that side of him. Kids are cruel and that means he is the butt of their jokes and does not have very many friends his age.

I worried he would have another disappointing birthday, so I set out to make sure people were at his party and that it did not matter that he did not have many friends his own age. I invited my new friend Joey, who is closer to me in age than Robert, but loves hanging with kids of all ages. I invited my new friend Katie, who loves to sing. I also planned a surprise. Ash’s friend (from High School) Kris, her two girls and her niece would drive Robert’s Nana and cousin, Braxton, down to surprise Robert. In all, we had one Nana (60s), two 30-somethings (Ash and Kris), three 20-somethings (Joey, Katie, and I), a 16 year old (Robert), a 9 or 10 year old (Kris’ daughter Koda), a six year old (Braxton) and two five year olds (Kris’ daughter Kenzie and niece Brit).

When Kris arrived, they all went to TGIFriday’s (sadly I cannot get in her van, so I stayed home). That is where Robert wanted his birthday dinner. Then they came home where Joey and I were waiting. We just received a Playstation Move to check out and that’s when the party began!

After it took five adults (and finally Robert) to figure out how to set up the Playstation Move and Singstar Dance, we were in business!!!

At first, Robert was apprehensive about dancing, as were all of the adults, so we let the little kids dance! My friend, Katie, decided to spend her time singing!

But, after seeing how much fun Kenzie and Braxton had, Robert was raring to go. He decided to try it out with Joey!!!

He is actually pretty good and this game kind of makes everyone look awkward!!! He had a blast dancing and that’s the important thing!

By this time, everybody was getting into it!!! We had hours of dancing fun!

We got Ashtyn into it, by having her dance with her nephew, Lil B Man….

Kris’ girls had a blast and Kenzie was a little diva on the dance floor!

We even caught some hidden moments that people had no idea we were filming.

For instance, watch Kris get her groove on:

Robert got lost in the music and we captured him singing Lady Gaga:

We caught Nana (Sylvia) getting her dance on, which is rare, since she does not even like her picture being taken (nor does Kris, who is dancing with her):

We honestly believe Nana is set to be the next YouTube sensation!

Of course, the funniest moment not caught on tape was when Ash and Kris were dancing and Braxton, on beat started singing, “Old People, Old People are Dancing…” while he danced in front of them! Now THAT would have been a moment I’d have liked to capture on film!

Either way, Robert had the 16th birthday I’d hoped he’d have! That’s the most important thing. As his parent, I am happy!

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Dominick
Dominick is a director/filmmaker, activist, writer, advocate, FTM transman from the Midwest who lives in New York. Follow his film career and join his weekly Twitter chat on film and disability by following #FilmDis. He received his BFA in Film Production in 2014.