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Friday, August 10, 2012

My Son Will NOT Be "One Of Those Kids"

I was driving to work today, thinking about how fast this summer has flown by. Today is the kids' last day of summer camp, and we leave for vacation tomorrow. After a week with me and a week with their Dad, they're back to school. Where the heck did the summer go?

On the heels of that thought, I was patting myself on the back a bit (mentally, mind you - I was driving) because I've really been good about keeping David's skill levels up all summer. We've read and done math exercises and flash cards, practiced writing and other small manipulation tasks and it's really paid off. David is still at level and ready to rock the 3rd grade.

Except - oh, crap! I completely forgot to teach him how to play the recorder! Oh no!!!

Third grade is the year where they all learn to play the recorder in music class. They use a great program called "Recorder Karate" that Anna just loved when she was in elementary school. David is very, very musical, but he has a hard time with fine motor skills (like finger manipulation) and not a lot of patience. I would imagine it's going to be tough for him to learn the recorder along with his class.

And therein lies the rub. In our school, at the end of the school year, the kids give a concert where each grade sings a few songs, and beginning in third grade, they play a few songs on the recorder, as well.

Unless you're one of those "special kids".

While every other third and fourth grader walks onto the risers holding a recorder, you get to walk in with nothing, if you're one of "those kids". And when the music teacher signals them to put the recorder to their lips, you pull your hands up in a futile gesture, half-pantomining, because you want to do what they're doing, but you don't have a recorder. And then you stand awkwardly, glancing around in a very uncomfortable way, slightly fidgeting, maybe even pantomiming again, as everyone plays around you and you stand out in glaring relief. Because you're one of "those kids".

I am determined my kid will not be one of those kids. He will not stand in a humiliating fashion, pretending to sort-of play his imaginary recorder, while the longing to fit in shows clearly on his face.

I guess I need to start working with him ASAP. We do have a whole school year, and I'll be sure he practices. And I am going to speak to his music teacher through every step of the process. If the time comes and she feels his performance will hinder or disrupt the other kids, I will be happy to stuff his recorder full of cotton wool so that he can play and play and play and not a squeak will be heard. He won't notice, with all those other kids playing.

And if she balks, she and the school principal had better clear the halls because Mama Bear will be unleashed and it will not be pretty. When are they going to realize that I will fight for him? I will fight for him because he's my son, and because he will not and cannot fight for himself.

Most of all, I go into this year of potential recorder-playing disaster reminding myself of the one true thing I can count on from my beautiful son. My son with autism.

He surprises me. He does what I often think is un-doable for him. And he does it all the time.

Maybe by concert time, he'll be the best damn recorder player of the bunch, and they'll be the ones looking foolish.

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