Wedding Woes

Make sure your son sits with his friends and let the rest go.

Dear Prudence,

My son has mild autism. He manages well in a mainstream classroom and most people tend to just think he’s endearingly quirky. The only areas where we tend to have major struggles are with his social anxiety and shyness. He sees a therapist and is in a social skills group, but it’s going to be an ongoing challenge for him. For his approaching seventh birthday, he asked if he could take three friends from his baseball team to watch our local MLB team play. I thought it sounded like a great plan (he struggles with traditional parties but for whatever reason isn’t bothered by concerts or sports), bought tickets, and invited the three boys and their dads to the game. A few days ago, one of the dads texted me to let me know he had bought two tickets in our row so that his nephews could come too. He ended his text with, “I hope that’s okay.” My son has never met either of his nephews and is likely to be quite thrown by their presence.

I felt like he put me in a bind. If this were just a regular get-together I’d shrug it off and talk my son through the fact that we’d be hanging out with two strangers, but I feel like given that this event was specifically meant to celebrate my son’s birthday, he shouldn’t be forced into undue stress. I ultimately texted the dad back and told him it was fine—he’d already bought the tickets after all, but I can’t help but feel that it was incredibly presumptuous of him to invite along two children my son has never met to his birthday.

Am I wrong to think it was rude of the dad to bring along extra guests? The dad doesn’t explicitly know about my son’s autism but has seen his anxiety when he’s forced to engage with strangers, and we’ve discussed him being shy previously. Our local MLB team isn’t very good so tickets are neither expensive nor scarce. I honestly wanted to suggest he take his nephews to another game, but I don’t know if there is a way for him to exchange the two tickets he purchased at this point. Any suggestions on how I should/should have handled this?

— Baseball Strangers

Re: Make sure your son sits with his friends and let the rest go.

  • It was super rude of the dad to invite other people - 100%.  It's also a public place and there's not much you can do about it unfortunately.  
  • Well, you can't tell someone not to buy tickets to a game open to the public.

    But what I think you should do before or when you sent the invitation was to bring your son's request and autism to the attention of the parents.    I think the dad was out of line but it's hard to tell him he can't bring other kids. 

    So what I'd do is what the subject says - seat the kids together and sit the friend next to his cousins but at the end of your row.   Also understand that it's two extra people and try to roll with this since you know that this is a public location.  
  • mrsconn23mrsconn23 member
    First Anniversary First Answer 5 Love Its First Comment
    edited May 2022
    Yeah, there's likely NO way LW can ask this dad to exchange the tickets and have it be well-received. I get the kid has his issues/reactions, but this is also a good lesson to the son (and LW) that you can't control other people.  I can totally see how this dad took this as an 'opportunity' and didn't think anything of it, because people are often clueless, but getting him to understand why it's wrong/rude/etc is likely going to be a losing battle. 

    I mean, I guess say something to your son if you feel this is going to throw him off kilter.  However I am of the mindset that LW is making this a BFD when it's probably not. 

    But seriously, there's going to be possibly 1000's of strangers there.  And you say your son is OK in those types of crowds.  Chill, LW. 
  • I would tell the dad that my kid isn't very social around strangers rather than going into his diagnosis. I don't really think it's as serious as all that. 

    But also, dad is bringing nephews to a game in a different row, not inviting them to LW's house. It's a little pushy and odd, but it's not the rudest thing that ever happened. LW's kid can completely ignore them and it will be fine. If dad thinks kid was rude to strangers, oh well. 
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