The One In Which The Town Makes Me Cry

Micah's class Christmas program was tonight. It was the second grade class, and he's in third grade, but if you try to keep up I'll make this as simple as possible. The elementary has traditionally been kindergarten through 3rd grade. Micah's Life Skills class encompasses all those grades in one class so the kids have the same teacher for 4 years, and most of the same kids as well. (Consistency is huge with kids like Micah.) This year, 3rd graders in the elementary moved up to the middle school, but the 3rd grade Life Skills students were retained in the elementary. Micah, being a 3rd grader in a school that maxes at 2nd grade, now integrates with a 2nd grade class for homeroom, library, lunch/recess, field trips, and other such things. And of course, the Christmas program.

There. That wasn't too bad, was it? (He's also in a different district than his siblings, because our district doesn't have a Life Skills class in the elementary. It's all very confusing.) (And if your head is swimming a little, don't worry. So is mine.)

But hang on, there's more. In an effort to cut costs, two very small elementary schools were consolidated into Micah's school this year. So the largest district in the county is now even larger. It was explained at the program opening that they had to borrow 3 extra sets of risers to accommodate all the kids on stage, and to please be patient with them if things didn't go as smoothly as we hoped. Although they did. The kids did an excellent job of sitting, saying lines, singing, and general all around listening and obeying. Parents of second graders all over the county have a lot to be proud of.

So with all those extra kids, I was rather amazed that I could still hear Micah singing. We have the nasty habit of sitting waaaaaay in the back. I think there was one row behind us, we were that far back. I do this on purpose. Every other parent sits in the front to better see their child, and if I'm part of that crowd, I cannot see over the head in front of me. Being short sometimes has zero advantages. If I'm waaaaaaay in the back, there are generally a few empty seats that I can space myself behind so that I'm guaranteed to see what's going on up at the stage area. I may not be able to hear whispers of "it's your turn!" but I can see facial expressions. If I squint real hard. And I could still hear Micah singing over the throng of second graders, because that boy loves to sing and has a distinct voice.  He kinda makes me proud.

And because the school is awesome, every child has a line. Even my son, who cannot talk. He got to say, "Ho, ho, ho!" (It's a program about Santa, not the other kind of ho. I just thought I'd clarify that point.) Because things are moving along quickly, the audience is quiet and respectful while the kids say their line. If it was a particularly cute or funny line, we would laugh, and the kids would be delighted. But when Micah said his line, the entire auditorium clapped.

That's when the town made me cry.

Really. I sat there with tears streaming down my face. Not because my nonverbal son rocked the HoHoHo (which he did), but because the love and support of this small town that we call home has always been overwhelming to us. There were plenty of people in the audience that knew Micah, and so many more that had no clue who he was. But there were zero sighs, or eyerolls, or huffs of "just get on with it already."

Inclusion and acceptance are words that every parent of a special needs child fights for on a daily basis. It's all we want for our kids. Our kids will never be normal, so if they can at least be treated like  normal people are, it's the best we can hope for. And the parents of second graders in the largest school district in the county have proven tonight that they accept Micah and are more than willing to include him. In fact, they'll cheer him on just like I do every single day.

And I sit here with tears in my eyes again.


Roger said...

That is an awesome testament for your town. Well done Micah!!

Lisa Page Rosenberg said...

Bravo to all of them!

Mommy to those Special Ks said...

GREAT post! I would have cried too!

imbeingheldhostage said...

It's a good thing I don't live in your town-- when I cry, it's the ugly cry with hiccups, no one could have heard any of the children who came after Micah :)

Bravo Micah!!

Anonymous said...

I have been reading your blog for about a year now. I don't even remember how I stumbled on it, but I just wanted to let you know that a stranger in Florida also has a little bit of love in her heart for Micah. He is a great kid and I love reading about him.

Trisha said...

Good for your town. They really understand what is important.

Annette W. said...

Tears here, too.

Ho, ho, ho!!

Karen Deborah said...

that is the best Christmas story I have heard this year. I love this. Micah has come such a long way. It's wonderful.

mommaof4wife2r said...

no kidding...inclusion and acceptance! brooke is moving int othe functional academic program, more life skills based and similar to what micah is doing.

she will make the move in january...nervous but ready for her to vein a class with 7 others!

btw, that boy is more handsome every day!