Recently, I wrote about why I want Henry to be fully, unapologetically himself – why I don’t want him to “pass” for typical.
I posted this on Facebook yesterday:
18 months ago, Henry participated in the 5s class Christmas performance the only way he could – facedown on the floor, singing into the carpet, raising his arm to ring his sleigh bells on cue. Oh, and where was I? In the hall, out of sight, taking pictures by sticking my phone around the corner.
Today Henry asked his teacher if he could break dance for all the parents at the end-of-year celebration.
Early intervention. It works.
It later occurred to me that these two posts might seem incongruous to some, as if I wanted him to perform like all the other children. Please allow me to explain why asking to break dance is such an important moment for Henry.
It never bothered us that Henry didn’t perform the way his peers did. What broke my heart was the fact that music, singing and dancing lay beneath the surface of the anxiety. Every time he raised his little arm to ring the sleigh bells, it was a reminder to me that he was not only present, but also engaged and eager to participate. He was doing his very best.
Henry has always adored moving to the beat, from bopping around in my womb during Jersey Boys to dancing in front of the computer screen while Katy Perry sang with Elmo. Though he rarely sang with the group in 2s and 3s Sunday School classes, his teachers reported he was always smiling, and when he started to speak in sentences, we heard the Sunday School songs in the privacy of our home. By the time he was 4, he was participating on most Sundays. By now, he can easily pull up his favorite tunes on the ipad. He still listens to his Vacation Bible School CD, dances to Michael Jackson and Pharrell in the living room, begs Keith to play “my jamz” in the car, and even makes up his own songs.
So, I knew as sure as I knew my name that it wasn’t the singing that bothered him. And maybe I’ll never know all the reasons performing was/is so painful, but I know this: he’s conquering the obstacle. He’s finding ways to make it easier – not to be like everyone else, but to be more fully himself. That is the reason I’m praising God.