It was a week of musical performances for our kids.
They were two different experiences but each a lot of fun and sources of pride for us.
Our kids’ personalities are about as difficult as they come. Beckett is extroverted, talkative and lively. On the other hand, Carson is introverted, subdued and quiet.
Consequently, the prospect of musical performances days apart came with mixed emotions. When we talked about these shows ahead of time, Beckett let it be known he was prepared and ready. His response to our questions about his show and his parts were, “I’ve got this.”
One Sunday evening, about two weeks before his show, we found a flyer in Carson’s folder about the upcoming third grade concert performance. Since he’s non-verbal, we weren’t sure if he would even want to participate and whether there were plans for even including him. When Pam asked Carson about the upcoming show two weeks ago, he cried and buried his head in her lap. In my mind, that was that. He would just skip the performance. He’s non-verbal after all and he has a ton on his plate on a daily basis already. It wasn’t worth his anxiety.
One week later, when we inquired about the practices at school, we learned he was participating as an instrumentalist while his grade mates sang the holiday songs. Slowly but surely, he came around and seemingly got more comfortable in his role. He made it clear he wanted to take part. We were excited about that because we hate for him to miss anything, but we are also attentive to situations that will bring him stress because that can lead to negative behavior.
First up was Beckett, who played a shepherd in Worcester Prep’s Candlelight Service program last Friday. As a fifth grader in his last year of these wonderful lower school programs, Beckett and his classmates had large roles in the performance. Beckett was even fortunate enough to land many lines and even a solo, “You Are So Beautiful.”
In the weeks leading up to the show, we desperately wanted to hear him sing it. It was part curiosity as well as concern. We wanted to make sure he was taking it seriously and was prepared. When we met resistance at every turn and kept hearing, “I’m good, I’m good,” we just decided in Mrs. Brittingham, his music teacher, we would trust. If she was good, we were good.
When the day arrived, I was in awe of Beckett’s composure and lack of nerves on stage. He was clearly in his element in the spotlight and was impressive. If he was nervous, there was no outward indication. He had a strong stage presence and had a lot of fun.
As the time came for his solo, I was a wreck. All of a sudden it felt like the temperature in the room shot up 50 degrees and I was boiling in my seat. I was immediately settled when he sang the first lyric. He was right when he assured us, “I got this.” Although I’m no professional, he sang it beautifully and his mom and I were both moved to tears by his poise and courage as well as the spiritual message expressed in the program. He nailed it.
Five days later, we headed to Carson’s third grade winter concert at Ocean City Elementary. While Beckett relishes the spotlight, it’s clear Carson does not enjoy all the attention on him.
That reticent personality and the fact he’s nonverbal naturally brought some concerns for us, and him, in the weeks leading up to the performance. The good news is as the night approached his comfort level with his role seemed to grow.
Being unable to sing, although he’s a great hummer in the car and at home, his role was tweaked for the event, thanks to Mr. Chapman and the faculty at OCES. He was to be the group’s instrumental accompanist. I like to think of him as playing the part of the band. While his classmates sang and performed their skits, he played different drums, the tambourine and a handheld afuche.
In rehearsals, he was fine sitting in a chair next to the stage by himself. On performance night, he wanted some company. Beckett offered to help him, but we worried that wouldn’t work out well. Instead, Carson’s one-on-one, Mr. Wolf, sat next to him during his songs. That was fine by us, and Carson, who looked dapper in his suit and bowtie, seemed to really enjoy his role.
For his parents, we were grateful he was included. Carson has been going to OCES for six years, enrolling when he was 3 years old. It’s been a great fit for him. There is a sense of inclusion that we do not take for granted.
Honestly, we would have been fine if he sat out the winter concert. He doesn’t sing after all. If he could speak, I’m not sure his reluctance for attention and the spotlight would even get him on stage. We appreciate him being included and being able to contribute, even if it was a little off rhythm and off to the side.
All in all, both kids made us proud in what was a big week in our household.