It’s fairly routine in the younger grades at school to invite all of the children in your child’s class to their birthday party. When Jennifer Kiss-Engele handled the invites for her son Sawyer’s birthday over Christmas break, she was selective because of the timing, so she understood that Sawyer would not be invited to every single party as a result. However, in a post to Facebook, Kiss-Engele wrote a letter to a parent who invited every child in Sawyer’s class to her son’s birthday party — everyone but Sawyer.
“I know it’s not because he’s mean, you couldn’t meet a happier child,” Kiss-Engele wrote. “I know it’s not because he’s not fun, he has a great sense of humor and an infectious laugh. . . . The only reason why you decided it was OK to not invite my son to your child’s birthday party is because he has Down Syndrome.”
As the letter continues, Kiss-Engele tells this mother that she’s not mad at her for being misinformed about Down syndrome, because before having her son, she was also scared, uncertain, and misinformed. However, she did address the effects this decision could have on this mother’s child.
This is a great opportunity and life lesson to have with your child. They will remember the time that their parent said to them, it’s not OK to leave someone out because of their disability, race, or gender. I know you want the same things for your child that I want for mine. As parents, we want our children to be liked, to have friends, and to not be left behind. And how we do this is by setting examples ourselves and encouraging them to make choices that they might not be old enough to fully comprehend. But they will look back one day with understanding and the knowledge that you have shared with them.
Kiss-Engele added an update to her post after it went viral to inform everyone that the ending is happy and Sawyer is beaming after receiving a special invite to the birthday party. “There are so many kids with special needs (and without of course) that just don’t make the cut. I think as parents we all need to do a better job of fostering these relationships, myself included.”