Thank you for your patience last week during my absence – sometimes bronchitis happens and sometimes (usually, at our house) it’s Mom who gets it. Sigh.
All the feels today, my friends. All the feels.
I suspect there’s an outdated stereotype about families with special needs – that we keep to ourselves, staying home most of the time, not able to participate fully in the community and whatnot. For those of you who’ve been reading here for awhile, I hope we’ve shown you that’s not true. Case in point: the past couple of weeks.
We started out with Sarah Kate’s show choir finale the first Friday of May. Although she didn’t have any solos in the group numbers like last year, she did perform a solo special – “Lost Boy” by Ruth B. She was a wee bit nervous and shaky in the beginning, but warmed up pretty quickly, hitting just the right tone, pensive and honest, to fit the song.
Choreography is always a challenge, but she does what she can and improvises when she can’t. I didn’t take a lot of photos of the choreography, but I did grab this one of her leading the “rollercoaster” during Footloose.
Show choir this year has been a mixed bag, for reasons I won’t go into here, and she doesn’t plan to return to it this fall. However, I’m proud of the effort she put forth and the young lady she is becoming through participation in activities that seem like they would be far outside her wheelhouse.
The next morning, Nathan had t-ball.
It went the way it always goes – he relishes batting, running to first base, and running home, and obliges us with a variety of levels of commitment when it comes to running from second to third.
Following one of his at-bats, he was such a reluctant second-to-third runner that despite multiple errors he still didn’t make it to third base safely. The umpire called him safe, anyway, because with any semblance of a semi-reasonable effort he would have been, but I’d had enough of his shenanigans and promptly yanked him off the field. A lot of things can be allowed to slide (see what I did there?), but not everything.
There may have also been a talking-to about paying something resembling attention in the outfield…
Nathan’s year end IEP meeting was on Thursday morning, which I’d love to say more about but probably won’t – at least not right now. Overall, it was positive and I am cautiously optimistic for the new school year.
The middle school band spring concert was on Thursday evening.
Sarah Kate proudly sat in the second chair (which she had successfully defended from a challenge just the day before), which is an accomplishment in itself. I don’t talk about it a lot here, as it’s a small issue in the grand scheme of things, but because she actually has spastic triplegia (not diplegia) her dexterity in her right hand is not great – fingering a clarinet at all is a challenge, much less doing it well!
It’s hard to imagine now, but she contemplated not returning to band this year. A lot of kids who start out in sixth grade band decide they hate it early on but are forced by their parents to stick it out through the end of the school year. I’m not against that philosophy of parenting, but the unfortunate side effect is that the kids who don’t want to be there take a lot of fun out of it for the kids who do. BUT…she stayed in and now she loves it. In fact, she said this weekend that of her current three musical pursuits, band is her favorite.
I’m trying not to look ahead to a little over a year from now when there’s marching involved. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
Friday was when things started to head off the rails (at least for this mom who was not quite well yet and in need of rest). Nathan’s school had Field Day, then he had a t-ball game and Sarah Kate was to be in a showcase with other students of her voice coach.
This is the point in the story where you should suggest that it’s okay for him to miss a game, but it was The Last Game and I just couldn’t do that – especially since both of our coaches (the same ones he had in the fall) will be moving up next season.
For much of it, The Last Game went the way his games usually go…
…he did his odd balancing thing as he reached home plate…
…and he got the most joy out of batting, stretching it out as long as possible with fake strikes and fouls..
…but unlike every other game he’s ever played in, he ACTUALLY FIELDED A BALL. And not only did he field a ball, his effort in fielding the ball ACTUALLY PRODUCED AN OUT. I don’t have any photos (and honestly, I’m sort of glad because enjoying the moment was better).
Here’s how it went down: Nathan was sitting, as per usual, in the outfield. Batter hit the ball and it got through the infield, rolled literally right into his lap, then popped over onto the grass to his right. He picked it up, looked at the second baseman who put his hand out, and tossed it to him. The second baseman then ran and touched the bag before the runner made it there.
It was glorious and hilarious at the same time.
We went directly from the ballpark to the vocal showcase. Sarah Kate was nervous – very nervous. Many of the other voice students have been in training for years and have performed in dozens of musical theater productions. Some of them have even been tapped for prestigious music and theater programs in major cities, and the voice coach’s own son was a contestant on The Voice.
She sang American Honey by Lady Antebellum, the only country song on a program dominated by musical theater with a few pop songs and original works thrown in. Fortunately, it wasn’t a competition, the crowd was friendly to new talent, and she held her own. I wasn’t sure going in if the setting would encourage her or discourage her, but she came away with a renewed passion for voice and wants to continue with it in the fall.
We’ve discussed what she might do next vocally, and for the summer the plan is to relax and hit the Friday night karaoke at the bowling alley as often as possible. I’d like for her to try a musical again (or at least a camp), but she’s resistant at the moment, for good reason, so we’ll have to wait and see.
As for Nathan, he will still be young enough for t-ball through the fall, and the league commissioner has made it clear that he won’t have to move up even when he turns seven if we want him to stay in t-ball.
In the individual moments of ballgames and performances it’s sometimes hard to see past the challenges – Sarah Kate has to work harder for the same result as others, and while t-ball is more about having fun than about competition and skill, Nathan’s differences are impossible to ignore. But there were times when I wouldn’t have expected either of them to be a part of mainstream activities.
Inclusion is not defined as opening the doors to let disabled individuals enter, but welcoming them and having them participate fully. It is not easy to take the extra steps toward true inclusion, but it is important for the child struggling to get a foot in the door, and it’s a good lesson for typical kids to witness, as well.
Not everyone would encourage or Sarah Kate or Nathan’s participation, of course, but we’ve been fortunate through years to have had people placed in our path who understood what it would take and were willing to go that extra mile.