It started with a phone message that made me stand still.
“Hi there, this is Ms. G. I just wanted to let you know that the Roc volunteered for both a speaking and a singing part in the upcoming 1st grade concert. I was pretty surprised when Mrs. C confirmed it. We agreed that focusing on the speaking part would be where we would start. The singing might be too much for him, but we’ll see. I just wanted to let you know because his line should be coming home today or tomorrow if it hasn’t already. We’ll be doing lots of prepping leading up to the concert.”
I stood with both hands on my desk, staring at the machine as the message played out and the play button stopped blinking red. Then I played it again.
I asked the Roc about it later and couldn’t get much info out of him, which didn’t surprise me. I wondered if he understood that he was volunteering to speak at the concert–not just that day in music class. GC stared at me when I told him later, disbelief written on his face.
“Did he understand what he was trying out for?” he asked me. I shrugged my shoulders. I didn’t know.
I started asking the Roc what his “line” was, and over the next few days he started to remember and tell me a close approximation to what was printed on the narrators page.
“We won’t even need to get a passport.”
Ms. G wrote a social story, “What To Do When: I Am At The Music Concert” complete with pictures of the Roc’s head photoshopped into the story. We read it numerous time, and then again right before we piled into the van to go to the auditorium.
“I’m nervous to say my line at the concert,” the Roc repeated over and over as we drove. He gripped my hand as we walked into the building and I felt his anxiety creep up my arm. When all the kids started to go up behind the curtain onstage I motioned for the Roc to follow them. He froze and I walked with him, encouraging him to give me a high-five before climbing the stairs. When I got back to GC he told me that the Roc turned around just before slipping behind the curtain and made a face at me as I walked away, his anxiety bubbling out and boiling over. I sat back and tried to settle my stomach.
Then the curtains opened and the concert started. I could see the Roc’s nervousness in his stiffness and the way he would pull his lips right over his teeth. During the very first song he moved down to the front of the stage with three of his classmates and my breath caught in my throat.
He went down there! Would he remember his line? Would he say it out loud? Into the microphone? I froze in my seat, waiting, hoping to would hear his voice, holding my breath as I watched.
Then he did it! His classmate handed him the microphone and the Roc said his line. He went to put the microphone back on the floor but remembered he had to hand it to the boy next to him! Then he walked back to his spot on the top of the risers.
He did it!!! I was so proud of him. He conquered his anxiety and said his line! I watched him during the rest of the concert, smiling as he watched one of his classmates, copying their every move. He did the hand motions, waved his little American flag, and barely moved his lips. When it was over GC looked at me and said, “I felt a little tear in my eye when he said his line. I’m so proud of him!”
He was one of the last kids off the stage and as I made my way to him I saw he was talking to Ms. G.
“You did a great job Roc!” she told him.
“Yes! You really did!” I chimed in.
“I said my line Mommy!” he boasted. The pride on his face evident.
He did, he said his line, and he did so much more than that. He is participating in life. He is trying new things. He is pushing through his anxiety, his nerves, his fears. I am so proud of him. More importantly, he is proud of himself. As he should be.