Alex’s choir went to the state choral festival today. I met them there and observed their stellar performance. But I observed so much more.
I drove Alex there myself for a variety of reasons best summed up by saying that life is complicated and that was the simplest solution. As such we were early, because I’m always early, so we sat together in the foyer awaiting the arrival of his choir. When they entered, Alex hesitated, but his dear friend Maddie was at the front of the group and when she saw him standing there a smile lit her whole being (and as a stunningly beautiful and dynamic young woman, Maddie’s smile was something to behold) then she beckoned for him to join her, he glanced at me for approval, which I granted, and jetted over to join her. She clasped his hand as they took off with the group for warmups.
This has been standard since Alex joined the choir. Maddie had participated in the LINKS program in elementary school, and every time I see her she exudes warmth and friendship toward Alex. I’ve seen it before, but I never quite get over my sentimentality about it.
Then, after their performance, they filed into the seating area of the auditorium. Alex was a bit confused about which direction to head, and I watched him from afar with anxiety building. In familiar areas Alex is independent and confident, but in this new territory he appeared uncertain and hesitant. I constantly waffle about how much support to offer since independence is our ultimate goal for him, but from where I sat there was nothing I could do anyway. I watched, wondering if he’d get frustrated or upset, but before I could even begin to fuss, another young lady took his hand and escorted him in the right direction. Again, when it was time to go, she glanced toward him and took his hand to escort him in the right direction. Though I recognized her, I don’t even know her name.
All parents carry some degree of concern ofr fear over relinquishing control of their children in the world, but that universal emotion is magnified by disability. Alex is almost 15, but he’s as innocent as a first grader. He’s going into high school but he reads at a second grade level. He has a young man’s body, but the spirit of a boy. He’s on a path toward independence, but it’s more meandering than average.
As he navigates his way to maturity and independence, there are gaps along the way. Those gaps are worrisome to us as his parents, but today I saw his peers recognize and step into those gaps, of their own volition.
And today I am encouraged that his path, though littered with hazards, is also sprinkled with helpers. Helpers for whom I am at a loss for words to express the gladness they bring to this mom’s soul.
And I am grateful to the parents who teach and model for their children acceptance and inclusiveness, because their children are changing the world.