This afternoon the hubs and I went to Emma’s place at Victory Gardens Biograph in Chicago. An ABLE Ensemble production of Gems Unseen. A.B.L.E stands for Artist Breaking Limits and Expectations. The ABLE group stands alongside the students with disabilities and recites the lines to them so they can in turn recite the line. There is no pressure for the kids to remember their lines and they get to participate in a live onstage productions for their families, friends and community.
Unseen Gems is a production of 4 stories “about 4 very different people and the talents and strengths that lie beneath the surface. Over the course of 10 weeks, the cast of 21 actors with developmental differences, supported by a team of teaching artists and volunteers, devised their own tales for performance. Working in a variety of mediums including, scenes, monologues, movement and music, the group will share their true colors and diverse talents.”
Watching Emma and the actors perform was absolutely amazing. They told stories about people being beautiful on the inside and what that looks like, the outside doesn’t mean anything if the inside is ugly.
For the event I had our babysitter from 11am till 6pm. We all went out to dinner afterwards and talked about the show. I can’t explain how proud I was of Emma, Johnny’s BFF. I was honored to be at that table with Emma’s family and friends.
As I walked into my house at 6pm my son turned around from the table and shouted “asshole!” I guess my presence startled him at that moment. His sitter reported that he was great all day with the exception of one incident with the dog, but everyone is fine. I talked about the show a little while Johnny started chanting over me and calling my name. I missed him all day but at that moment I could feel my sadness coming in.
After the sitter left I tried to explain to John where we were. Even at John’s
Age of 12 years old, he would never sit still or stop making loud noises at a venue like the Biograph, which is why we couldn’t bring him.
I said, “Someday Johnny I would love if you could come to one of Emma’s shows with us?” John looked at me and said “I can’t wait!” He must have heard that from somewhere as an appropriate response and used it on me. I actually had butterflies thinking that he may want to do something like that someday. Then, he looked at me and said “Chuck E Cheese?” and I said, “Yes, Johnny you are still going to Chuck E Cheese tomorrow, you earned it”.
He needed to make sure I wasn’t upset with him and he still earned it.
I am grateful John can be pleased with so little. He loves Disney, Chuck E Cheese, black popcorn, Wheel of Fortune and taking baths. I could walk through Target for hours without him asking me to buy him a thing. I could drive across the country and he wouldn’t ask for a thing other than the items I just listed.
It’s what he needs to function I cannot give him. The sensory processing, the moments in his head that he can’t control, the anxiety and fear when he meets someone new or goes to a new place. The ability to control his cursing, outburst and frustration. I can’t always give him a quiet place. We have to go out into the world, it’s a requirement to living.
All the things that are important to me mean nothing to him. For example, being able to go to the movies as a family or checking out the latest kid’s venue. Time spent together as a family. I understand that most kids don’t want to hang out with their family but when they grow up they are grateful for those moments and talk about them around the holiday dinners. They reminisce how mom and dad made them do this and that and how they hated it but are so happy they did now. What will we have to talk about in 20 years? How John stayed home while we went to the plays and movies because John just couldn’t handle it? Furthermore, his uncles and aunts aren’t breaking the door down to spend some quality time with him like they do with the rest of the kids. We are all we have to make memories.
Writing this just makes me even more grateful for Special Olympics! Being a part of something big!
His anxiety, cursing and isolation seem to be the norm these days. His obsession with his schedule is getting worse. I am so grateful for his school where he loves to hang out with his 12 other classmates. However, I am already thinking about his transition to high school and how hard that is going to be for him. I feel like I am always ON, never turning off the worry and anxiety of his future.
Regardless of John’s struggles #ISeeYourLight
I see the beauty inside. The boy that makes people laugh. When he arrives at school and has two of the crankiest people on earth glowing when they see him coming. He changes peoples. He makes people stop and look up and be grateful. So that is what I will talk about at the table in 20 years’ time. How my extraordinary little man changed so many lives just by being present in his own unique way. #ISeeYourLight I love you Everyday!