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The Christmas Show

posted Wednesday December 10th, 2008


“Gosh, I didn’t expect to cry,” a mom said, wiping her eyes as we walked out out of the school cafeteria after the kindergarten holiday show.

“Yeah, I know,” I mumbled, grateful it was dark so she couldn’t see my own dry ones. I actually had expected to tear up, had packed extra Kleenex, but it never happened.

Maybe because I was too apprehensive. Sophie looked worried, too, as she waited on the risers before the concert started. (Once it did start I couldn’t get close enough to get a good picture.) Maybe because the place was so freaking packed you couldn’t move, maybe because I was distracted by the endlessly fascinating task of watching the odd music teacher, or maybe because I feel like an interloper.

That’s it. Interloper. I got the usual phony hello from the principal as I ran Sophie into her classroom, then watched as another teacher had to nudge her (in a not very friendly fashion, I thought) toward her group, when she strayed — just enough that I was likely the only one to notice, but still.

I don’t mean to whine. Sophie rocked it. She mouthed along to the songs, sat up and down when she was supposed to, and didn’t sneeze (a big worry — she’s got a runny  nose and I had visions of a “snot alert” from the stage.) Of course, for Sophie all rocking it really meant was that she didn’t bolt from the stage when she saw her family, looking for a hug. Luckily, Annabelle found a spot on the floor right in front of where Sophie was sitting, and (trained from her own kindergarten experience) did the hand movements for Sophie to copy.

But I just couldn’t get past the anxiety and the fluorescent lights and the Flip camera to get a good cry in, and I didn’t realize why til we were walking to the car, just after talking to the weepy mom.

Next year, Sophie might not be in school with that weepy mom’s little girl. She might not have the luxury Annabelle has — of hanging out in second grade with the BFFs she made in kindergarten. Sophie might be held back, or forced to go to another school (if the principal has her way) and flush! There goes the community we’ve been building for her. I’m hesitant to embrace it, for fear it’s an illusion, just as my mom (understandably) worries that Sophie’s not really making any friends.

That so much of this is for show.

Is this kindergarten experience for show, just something to make me feel good? I have evidence to the contrary, I do. I know it. Sophie’s where she should be.

For the moment….

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7 Responses to “The Christmas Show”

  1. AWWW Too bad you were too anxious to enjoy. I know that once Ricki did bolt, and I sent her right back. Over the years she has learned that a TINY wave while going upstage (or before) is enough.

    But I always found parties a bit stressfull, because those were the times that I saw OOO so clearly just how far advanced her classmates are ahead of her. So the teacher and siyat would come over beaming about Ricki’s good performance, while I am in tears……

    But eventually I came to be a bit more relaxed.

    Your principal may change her mind. Sophie has barely started. As she sees the progress that Sopie makes, and sees that it is not a disaster for the class, she may change. I have a friend whose daughter is included in a different school in our town. At first the principal was anti.. but REALLY. By half-way through the school year, she told my friend: “I am already doing “penance” for having thought to not include your daughter….”

    If the principal stays anti, maybe there is another school in your area that can accept her? We had Ricki in a school that barely tolerated her. Finally we switched, and it is the best thing we ever did.

  2. I guess this is just one of those “take it as it comes” things. But that’s really really hard to do.

    Annabelle doing the motions for Sophie is an incredibly sweet image.

    And I love her tights! Very festive.

  3. Hmm. I never noticed the tights, actually. A guy thing, I guess. But that overwhelmingly precious countenance melts this hard heart.

    Now that you mention it, Cate, the tights do have a certain Ronald McDonald-ish appeal, not unlike Amy’s pink plaid tablecloth. Alas, as I am wont, I have digressed.

    I know this is going to be a long reply, and I have wondered if Amy’s forum is the forum for this, or should I have my own blog? Nah. It’s topical, so it fits. Ultimately, it is about my caring for the Girls in the Party Hats.

    Two things in this post stimulated this reply:

    1. When Ryan (my son with DS, now age 32)started public school around 198o, the local I.S.D. bragged about their new segregated special ed campus.

    Another father (a medical Ph. D. whose son, Todd, had cerebral palsy; even in those days Todd “spoke” via a stick on his forehead to point onto his new Texas Instruments speak ‘n’ spell keyboard device, similar to Stephen Hawking) and I confronted the truly beloved Superintendent of Schools with the federal Public Law 94-142, promising to call in Advocacy, Inc. (the ACLU for the rights of handicapped people) if the School District implemented the plan.

    The District immediately backed off, fearing a lawsuit and bad publicity, etc. It was surprisingly easy. One visit. Bam.

    The point of this point is to point out that even the best of administrators must occasionally be redirected to think in terms of the law. The law called for the “least restrictive environment”, i.e. “mainstream as much as you can.”

    So, tough toenails to school administrators regarding the inclusion of our kids. Mainstreaming Sophie & Todd & Ryan was and is the right thing to do, not to mention that it is a FREAKING FEDERAL MANDATE (!). Not even the school board, much less a principal, can avoid this. So, Sophie stays, as long as you claim your rights.

    2. I really don’t want to go here. This will bum you out, so go away now until you’re ready for this tough read.

    Amy’s mom is generally right about friends.

    Particularly in high school, Ryan had lots of kind acquaintances, but he has had no true friends since he left public school. The true peers he had in high school were handicapped.

    In high school, he would do go bowling and sleepover with Eddie or Eric. Ha! Ryan used to mock their idosyncracies when they weren’t around, just as Ryan’s brothers and I still mock Ryan’s idiosyncracies! I’ll bet ya’ll do that about Sophie. Oops, digressed again.

    Ryan’s functioning is sufficiently high that he has no interest in hanging with other handicapped people since high school. He’s in denial of his own handicaps.

    He has a rather healthy interest in girls, as long as they’re actually hot; age or marital status does not matter. His social life is pretty much limited to attending church with his mother, his part-time busboy job, and flirting with babes he can’t have.

    I wish that he were in one of those sheltered homes with other handicapped folks, but I don’t think he’d want that.

    In the moment when they first brought Ryan into the hospital room, I saw it. The almond eyes. Then that asshole pediatrician tried to be all evasive about the DS until they had done “testing.” That arrogant SOB knew. That’s another story.

    After that weekend, I had to drive back to Ft. Sam Houston to continue US Army Officer Basic training. A few miles out of Houston I had to pull off Interstate 10 for a big cry, having been stoic all weekend. You know: it was the classical Down’s parent’s “he’s never going to be President” grief cry.

    It’s a cry that never ends; borrowing from an eye care text regarding the dry dye syndrome, “it tends to last a lifetime with minor remissions and exacerbations.” Sigh.

  4. I don’t like the principal and I frankly have not had any “real” interactions with her. She’s just not a good fit. She doesn’t want to be there, they made her come to the school. So she’s miserable all around and making everyone else that way. I wish the situation would change.

    A lot of kids repeat kindergarten, it’s not uncommon at all.

  5. I love Robert Polk!

  6. I love Robert Polk, too!!!!!!!!
    (See, RP, I told you there’s a fan club out here….)

  7. Quit your day job, Robert, and BLOG!!

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