Adult ChildrenSpecial Needs

My Twins Turned 20. Don’t I Get a Sticker for This Shit?!

I celebrated my twins’ 20th birthday last week, or as I call it, the 20th anniversary of My Motherhood. I graciously took a moment on my anniversary to celebrate the little turds and I took sometime to pat myself on the back, too. I’ve managed to keep the twins (and another kid) alive and mostly fed for the last two decades with only minimal professional psychiatric intervention. Bravo, Mom!

For the record, only one of the twins lives with me so I got out of 1/2 of a party. Frankly, I would have skipped the one who does live with me but she’s intellectually disabled and functions about on the level of a five year old so you know that HER birthday is kinda a big deal. Birthdays equal cake. Cake is good. Who can argue with such perfect logic?

This particular twin also has autism which means people aren’t her thing so her birthdays traditionally have been celebrated with family, or her sister’s friends. This used to make me very sad and I spent years longing for her to have just one friend. But after years of seeing the nightmarish hell of children’s social interactions, I’ve come to the sage conclusion that friends are way overrated.

You know what’s not overrated? Cake. Never met a cake that disappointed me, made fun of me or left me at the mall in 1985 because I wanted to shop at the ultra un-cool JCPenneys. So this year I decided to quit moping about my daughter’s lack of friends and just invite the middle aged intellectually disabled men that my daughter has met through events at a local social service agency.

Now, if you would have told me 20 years ago that I would be celebrating my daughter’s 20th birthday with four mentally challenged men in their 50’s I may have been slightly sad about the prospect but, friends, I would have been so, so wrong. The party was great! Everyone loved the frozen pizza, cupcakes and ice cream cups. Best part was breaking out the turntable and playing my old K-Tell “Goofy Tunes” albums and a few of the guys knew all of the words to Ray Steven’s “The Streak”. A Ke$ha free zone! Bonus!

A song about public nudity is the sure sign of a quality party. After the cool tunes and the cake, we all sat down to watch Wheel of Fortune as is protocol in my household. Then the guys went home in a white van. No, I’m not kidding, a white van came to pick them up.

I bought my daughter 20 mylar balloons, one for every year of her life, and she gathered them all after the guys left and took them into her room and changed into her pj’s. Party’s over, time for bed.

The other daughter, the typically developing daughter, didn’t ask for anything in particular for her birthday. I commissioned a painting for her new apartment. She went out for Indian food with her boyfriend and took the day off work. Different celebration than her sister, different state, different life.

It’s amazing how things turn out with the kids, how the kids can be so very different from what you may have expected or what you may have wanted and yet still be totally ok. In rare and beautiful moments, everything may be better than you could have dreamed.

Next year is the big birthday #21. My 21st birthday was celebrated by getting highly intoxicated on the strip of long ago torn down bars on Ohio State’s south campus. It seemed really important to me then. I have a feeling my twin are going to celebrate in an entirely different way. Who knows, maybe I’ll invite the guys over,
I’ve got a Tom T Hall album I bet they would love. In any event, I’ll take a hint form my daughter with the disability….as long as there is cake, everything is just fine.


Katie Anderson is a freelance writer and improv theater instructor. Her work has appeared in Alt Daily , HuffPost Parents and Anderson has written comedy for Panties in a Twist: All Female Comedy and a weekly live stage show, Second City This Week in Los Angeles. She is currently working on a practical guide for parents and caregivers of autistic individuals to be published sometime in the next few years (get off her back, it's hard to write a book). Katie holds a BA in Psychology from The Ohio State University. She lives with her academic rock star husband, one of her three kids and two very spoiled cats in Virginia. Follow her on Twitter @ improvperson.

Related Articles


Leave a Reply