Nearly two months ago, Samantha began singing new songs, songs we'd never heard her sing before. I recognized a few, such as Yankee Doodle and America the Beautiful, but there were a few I didn't know, accompanied by hand gestures and some "fancy" footwork. When a paper came home in her backpack with the lyrics for 5 or 6 different songs and a note stating that we, as parents, should help our child to learn the songs, I got excited.
There was going to be a 1st Grade concert.
And Samantha knew the songs.
This meant not that I was excited that she knew the songs, but that she must be participating in the practices, and would participate in the concert. How else could she possibly be learning them?
Samantha had a breakthrough this year, one in which she began to participate in class activities, to get up in front of the class to present a project or participate in a class assignment. My kid. You know, the one that would shut down at the mere mention of going to the front of the class for anything.
And the concert would be the pinnacle, the main event, the culmination of all that she'd accomplished with that breakthrough.
I began playing out the scenario in my head, how we would file in with all of the other excited mothers and fathers, how our hearts would burst with joy as she took her place amongst the other 1st Grade classes, standing proud and smiling her very own magic brand of sunshine and rainbows out at the audience, how the music would start and the voices would swell, one slightly more off-key than its counterparts... And I knew I would cry tears of sweet happiness.
Then...a few weeks ago...her resource teacher mentioned to me that while it would be highly unlikely that Samantha would participate in the concert, they would try their best.
And the needle was ripped off the record. My heart sank.
You see, as it turns out, Samantha did learn those songs at the practices. But she learned them in her head, by watching her classmates. She sat nearby, listening, but would not participate. And, when it came time to do a full practice in the gymnasium with the other 1st Grade classes, she flat-out refused to even go into the room. And not out of stubbornness, mind you, but a real reaction of fear. It was just. too. much. for her.
I was sad.
I was disappointed.
I had wanted so much to see my baby doing the things her classmates were doing, performing as her peers, both with and without extra chromosomes, love to do.
But I know her limitations. She does not like large groups of people singing. I think it physically hurts her, overwhelms her, with or without her headphones (they tried).
And you know what?
My heart still swelled with pride, pride that she still learned the songs, that she had listened so carefully, that she loved so much to sing them at home, for us. And if we never see her perform in a class concert, that is okay with me. I know her limitations, and I am proud of what she has accomplished.
Do I think she may perform with a group in the future?
But given all of the breakthroughs she's had in the last year, it's certainly a possibility.
And today, the day of the concert, first in front of the school in the morning, then to the parents at 6:30 tonight, I sent her in wearing her red, white and blue, as instructed. And if she doesn't want to go up on stage, she doesn't have to, and has the full support of her teacher, with whom she will sit. And tonight we will take her back to the school for the parent's concert. And if she doesn't want to go up on stage, she doesn't have to, and has the full support of her teacher, with whom she will sit, and will still have the full support and pride of her parents, who will be so happy that she tries so hard.
I am not disappointed in the least.