I was going to smoosh our Saturday evening into yesterday’s post about our morning adventure at the farm, but the evening deserves a post of it’s own. It’s that special, that noteworthy, that… absurdly wonderful.
We took the Roc to his very first concert on Saturday night.
Read that again. We took the Roc to a concert on Saturday night. A concert.
Anyone with a child on the spectrum knows this is H.U.G.E. Big. Very, very big. The crowds, the noise, the lights, the movement, the buzzing energy, the vibrations, the sensory overload potential would seem insurmountably, and it did to me.
To be honest, taking my soon-to-be 7 year-old to a concert was not my idea. It was GC’s. He deserves the credit for the idea and the adventurous spirit. The Roc loves music. He can sing a tune, on key, after only hearing it a couple times, though he won’t if you ask him, you have to catch him singing when he doesn’t know you are listening. Awhile back GC introduced the Roc to a band called Owl City and he wants to listen to it in the car and at home, and we hear him singing the lyrics while he’s taking a bath at night. While we were still living in Delaware GC showed the Roc some youtube videos of the musican/songwriter/singer of Owl City, Adam Young performing live and the Roc started asking to go to a concert. GC immediately thought it would be fun…I wasn’t so sure. See the sensory overload list above.
GC convinced me and we bought tickets for their last US show, which happened to be in St. Paul on Saturday night. We wavered on whether we should tell the Roc or surprise him. It didn’t take much discussion before we both concluded that we should tell him.
He showed him pictures of the venue, what the stage would look like, pictures of concerts so he could see all the people there in the dark listening and watching just as he would. We talked about the flow and direction of the evening, that we would go to dinner at a restaurant first, about the amount of people, how loud it would be, that people might cheer, clap and sing along. I showed him his headphones and reassured him that I would bring them and he could wear them if he needed to. We told him that we would sit in a row, just like a movie theater, and he would sit in between us, just like he did when we went to a Devils game. We also told him that Owl City would play last and Unwed Sailor and Mat Kearney would perform first. On the way up to the farm we listened to Mat Kearney and Owl City. After only hearing Mat Kearney a couple times we heard him humming along to the songs.
When we got home from the farm we went over these specifics again, the crowds, the noise, that we were going out to eat first. I convinced the Roc to change his outfit, GC and I took a deep breath and we left. As we drove down the highway I asked the Roc if he was excited and he said “Yes!!”
We found the parking garage and then walked a couple blocks to a Thai restaurant we wanted to try. We are blessed with a child who is willing to try new foods and he likes Thai food.
I realized right away that the guys from Mat Kearney’s band were at the same restaurant and really wanted the Roc to say hi, but knew better than to push it. I pointed out the guys to him, and said they would be on stage later. He watched them through the whole meal.
As we walked over to the auditorium the Roc said, “I think they are going to be late.”
“Who?” I asked him.
“Those guys, they are still there and they are supposed to be on stage.”
“Oh! I’m sure they will get there in time, don’t worry,” GC tried to reassure him.
We made our way to the balcony and I was relieved that there wasn’t a throng of people to push through, we quickly went through some people waiting at to buy tickets and then found our seats without a fuss. The Roc had a grin on his face that made my heart swell. GC and I looked at each other over his head and smiled, things were going great so far. The woman sitting directly in front of the Roc turned around and asked him if it was his first concert. He squirmed in his seat, he didn’t want to answer her, talk to her. I smiled at her and prompted him, he finally whispered yes. Seeing my camera she offered to take our picture.
GC got a shot of the Roc and I, a rarity as he usually squirms and gets really silly whenever I want a picture with him.
The lights started to dim and I got a quick shot of the Roc, he was so excited.
When the first band, Unwed Sailor, began playing the Roc clapped his hands over his ears and rocked back in his seat. The look on his face was pure pain and fear. I fumbled around for the headphones and my heart beat wildly to see his face contort. As I slid them down over his ears, the Roc visibly relaxed and smiled again. I caught GC’s eyes, widened my own, and swiped my hand across my forehead. We would have been out the door if I would have forgotten those headphones!
The Roc sat through the whole set, eating the candy I had brought in my purse. It was at the end when he started asking for a drink, and so during the first intermission GC got up to buy a bottle of water (ca-ching!) I asked the Roc if he wanted to take off his headphones and he did not, his refusal was immediate and I didn’t ask again.
Then Mat Kearney came on stage and the Roc turned his attention back towards the stage. About halfway though this second set the Roc started to get squirmy, touching his headphones, and grimacing. He would look at me and talk, and I couldn’t hear a word. I pulled him onto my lap, the vibration of the music running through my body was so intense, I knew it must be even more so for the Roc. I squeezed him tight, hoping to deliver the pressure he needed. I swayed him to the music and he smiled.
During the second intermission the Roc still did not want to remove his headphones. He was starting to look dazed and GC and I exchanged looks over his head. We were hoping he would make it to see Owl City, the whole reason we brought him there in the first place. He did.
He sat up and smiled when Adam Young and his musicians came on stage. He sat on my lap and then GC’s lap. He was entranced through most of Owl City’s performance. Towards the end he started to squirm around in his seat and I could feel our time running out. I asked him if he wanted to leave, and he vehemently said “NO!” GC and I locked eyes, we both were feeling the same dread, a meltdown was coming. The air around him was charged. I looked at my phone, 10 pm, and couldn’t believe he had made it this far. We had been there for 3 hours. The last two songs were announced. Then the final song started. I grabbed the Roc’s hand and pulled him to his feet, the opening to the stairs was 2 rows behind us. We clomped down the stairs and the hallway was empty. I grabbed his hands and we danced around. I told him it was almost over and I was so proud of him for going to the concert. We walked back up to the top of the stairs and danced together. I took a picture of him watching.
It was the final song, there were people on stage throwing bags of cotton candy to the crowd. The Roc was grinning. GC joined us and we walked out. We both knew there would be an encore. But at that moment it really didn’t matter that we would miss it.
He did it.
As we three alone walked across the skyway to the parking garage the Roc said,
“I had a great time at the concert!!” with a bounce in his step.
“I did too buddy,” I said with tears in my throat.
I did too.