June 21, 2006
By listening, parents helped save the
Please tell us if what we did reflected integrity? Here
is what happened and how we responded:
Our "special" son, now 19, was born with certain
learning and behavioral challenges. Hoping he might finish
grade school, we were thrilled when he completed high
school, able to play on the varsity tennis team! Wanting
to share his success with friends and neighbors, we planned
a graduation party for June 11, sending invitations in
On the morning of May 22, at 3 a.m., I felt a tug, and
it was our son, saying, "Mom, we need to talk about
the party. Please call it off." I suggested we talk
at breakfast, but he shook his head, saying we needed
to talk, now. So, we did.
He was uncomfortable with many of the people who were
coming to the party. They were neighbors, friends and
some of his peers. He wanted the party canceled. Not
wanting his accomplishment to go by without a celebration,
I asked if he would tell us who he would invite. He agreed,
creating his list. In the meantime, my husband and I
contacted those we had invited, asked for their understanding,
telling them the party was just for our son's close friends.
Among his invited guests:
- The woman who cleans our home.
- The gentleman who sold him his car.
- A thoughtful crossing guard from years earlier.
- An assistant manager of a fast-food restaurant.
- The high school librarian.
- Our general contractor and two of his assistants
who built our home - sometimes sharing part of their
lunches with him.
- His fifth-grade teacher, who helped him improve his
reading and classroom behavior.
And the list goes on.
At the party that he orchestrated, he was confident and
the perfect host, introducing all of the guests.
He blossomed, yet again. Most of his invited guests brought
their families and smiles were seen everywhere. My husband
and I beamed - for and with our son.
However, we had not kept our word to those original invited
guests we canceled. We violated the character definition.
What do you think?
Yes, proud parents, you listened, took a few risks and
created an environment that truly was directed to the
person for whom the celebration was intended, your son.
Sounds like you have a special family, in lots of ways
- combining charity, graciousness and character to achieve