Over 18 years ago, five pregnant mothers-to-be attended antenatal classes together and they became friends. The first baby of the group was born on Boxing Day 2000 and Joshua was the last to arrive in March 2001. We got together every week during our maternity leaves, first at each others ‘houses and as the babies became toddlers, we used to meet up at a local soft play area and at cafes. We went to baby Massage together. Most of us were working part time and most of us had Thursdays off and that used to be a day when we would meet up together.
Four of the five ‘babies’ started at the same nursery school ,then going onto the same primary school and often the Mums would meet on Thursdays still, but for a coffee or lunch on a Thursday, timed around school pick up. It was a strong friendship group, which had a shared experience of a new addition to the family around the same time. We would see each other at the school gates in the mornings and again at pick up time and so we knew what was going on in each other’s lives.
When Joshua was 7 years old, we began the process to move him to a Special School and he left his childhood buddies behind as they continued in mainstream primary and then moved onto the local High School. I still see the Mums, but now much less frequently and Joshua rarely sees the other ‘babies’. Clearly Joshua has taken a different path, but last night was a great night, a reunion, as we were all three invited to an 18th birthday party in a local cafe:
As soon as we arrived, Joshua plonked himself down on a leather settee near the door. The other three ‘babies’ who were present joined him there and we re-created a photograph that we have of a row of babies on a settee. They are now all such good looking young adults and it is a great photograph to have. Joshua was sleepy or shy at first, as he sat on the settee, but he soon joined in. He loves long hair and at his party everyone kindly allowed him to mingle amongst the guests, stroking the ladies hair or even patting a few men on the head. He really enjoyed being out on a Saturday evening and once he got going, refused to even sit down, but wandered up and down the cafe waving and pointing at people. It was good to be amongst friends, where I did not feel awkward, where I felt that I needed to control him and insist on him sitting in a corner. It was such a stark contrast from the previous Saturday when we were in a hospital ward, that we all had great fun.
The timing of the party suited us well, we arrived after 5pm and we stayed for almost four hours – I had not expected him to last that long! It was early in the evening as the birthday girl was heading out with her peers to town for more drinking and dancing, as 18 years old do, with the taxi booked to bring her home at 1.30am! But what a nice idea that family and family friends could celebrate with her first, before she headed out into the night, a legal adult. On the brink of her A Levels in the summer and then a planning to study more at university, I wish her all the very best for the future and I thank her and her family for thinking to include us in the celebrations.