Oh, the joys, the joys. You know when the principal of the school rubs your back and says, “He’s one of the most complex kids I’ve ever seen,” that she’s starting to realize that you’re not making stuff up. This is the same principal who was the district’s GT coordinator. Who has a Masters degree in gifted education. Who studied with George Betts. At least now A’s teachers…principal…random people in the hallway…know I’m not making shit up.
I suppose I should back up a bit.
Tonight was the 3rd grade specials showcase. A chance for the kids to show off what they had learned in art, music, PE, and computer lab. The PE teacher was going to lead them through a dance with the parents, the art teacher displayed the Carnivale masks they made, the computer lab teacher let the kids show off the Power Point presentations, and the music teacher had a little program of three songs with hand chimes.
And our son, spawn of two formally trained musicians, re-freaking-fused to participate.
We’ve been trying to gently encourage him to move out of his comfort zone. To push himself a little. I worry that by giving in to him too often that he’ll grow up to never try anything that’s uncomfortable or different. So we brought him to the showcase tonight and it just went downhill from there.
A curled up in the hallway by the music room and tried not to dry heave. For fifteen minutes I talked to him, cajoling, sweet-talking, encouraging. His music teacher (someone I went to grad school with…sigh) tried to talk to him; she knows he’s a strong singer (on pitch). The principal tried talking to him. His friends asked him if he was ok.
And he couldn’t do it. Couldn’t get up and walk into the music room. Couldn’t go into the gym to sing. He has the strongest will of anyone I’ve ever seen, and he managed to convince himself that he couldn’t do it, that he would literally get sick if he did. He was well past fight-or-flight.
The principal, God love her, took him to watch the kids sing. I stayed in the hallway to breathe. In. Out. In. Out. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.
I eventually made my way in, and sat behind A. I was still too raw to sit with him. And once the kids started singing, the tears flowed.
This was the world I envisioned, the one with happily singing kids and proud parents with video cameras. How I envied the families in the audience, calmly enjoying an evening’s entertainment. I had to turn around and face the wall to hide my quiet sobbing; thankfully I was back far enough that no one could hear me. That is not my world, and won’t be. Our oldest son will always march to the beat of his own drummer, and little I do can change that.
Once the music and PE part of the evening was over, A dragged us to the computer lab (with only the briefest of stops in the art studio). And proceeded to show us every.single.thing. that the Mac could do. The computer lab teacher was so happy with his work.
I know, in the grand scheme of things, that this is not a big deal. I know there are other parents out there with much bigger problems, much more difficult kids. But I think the challenge here lies in appearances. By all accounts, A looks entirely “normal.” And he’s not. He is so smart, but his intensities set him apart and make life difficult for him. I’m honestly at a loss as to what to do. Things had been going so well for him lately.
Tomorrow is another day.