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Sunday, January 24, 2010

School show, lessons learned

My daughter's school puts on a lot of shows---it's one of their trademarks. There was one on Friday. To be honest, I was kind of dreading it. I love the shows, but sometimes feel like the kids with special needs don't get as much out of them as the regular ed kids. I don't think Janey really knows what a show is, or gets that she is on stage. However, I felt like a few interesting concepts got formed in my mind watching this one.

Janey was happy on stage, but clueless. She didn't sing the song, although she probably knows them all, she didn't do the hand movements, she didn't really participate. A great high school student was with her, and encouraged her. She had a chair to sit in, although the other kids all stood. But she did cute things---she clapped when the audience clapped, she hugged the student at one point, she looked adorable up there. I noticed a lot of people in the big audience were watching her and laughing (nicely) when she did cute things. It made me think of diversity in a good way. Most of the rest of the kids were "with the program". They did as they were supposed to do. And it occured to me---is it really that bad that Janey didn't? She made people happy watching her, she was happy, she enjoyed herself. For someone like myself who hates to stand out, it was sort of inspiring in a strange way. She was herself, and she is always going to be herself.

Seeing the kids with Down Syndrome perform was wonderful. They did so well. I think inclusion is perfect for many kids with Down Syndrome, and I was struck as I often am how so many kids with that syndrome are just great kids. Not all of them, of course, because they are people and people vary, but many of them. And on a more low key note for myself, how very far ahead of Janey most of them are.

A lot of people told me how happy they were about seeing Janey. And she was a joy to see---so very beautiful, so happy in her own way. I have to admit I'd probably give it all up to see her be like so many of the kids in her class---academically bright, talking up a storm, futures so bright they have to wear shades---but still....Janey has her own things to offer.

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