This past Friday marked another event that I have been waiting patiently for ever since PJ started school- it was his first school talent show! Even though this is not his first time on a stage, it was his first performance and part of a school community, and I was thrilled!
His teacher keeps the details of the pre-K performance under wraps, allowing it to be a surprise for the parents, so as we took our seats in the packed auditorium, I had no idea what we were in store for, other than that the show had a reputation for being quick, less than an hour! The lights dimmed, and then...
Yup. That's my boy. I'm not sure why I expected any less, but as usual, PJ took the stage and made it his at the first hint of applause. I was worried that the other parents might be upset with his creative interpretation of the routine, since it was a distraction, but they all seemed to be as entertained as Pete and I were at the sparkle in my son.
The kids lined up on stage for the finale, and I could see that PJ was like a tuning fork- full of energy and movement. Sitting still for nearly 40 minutes had taken its toll, and PJ was like a coiled spring, waiting to be released.
All of the little Ghost Busters lined up, but PJ started to roam the stage, stepping through 3rd graders and weaving through 5th. You could see the rustle move through the performance as tiny PJ barreled his way through his much-taller schoolmates. I felt the tension rise inside of me. Why isn't an adult grabbing him? What if he gets off stage and into the hallways? What if he starts hitting another child in front of hundreds of people? What if he falls off? I watched as PJ completely disrupted the finale and my heart sank down into my shoes.
This is the part when I behave like a complete asshole.
"I got him now," I snapped, grabbing his hand. "Thanks." And then, more. "I"m kind of surprised that nobody grabbed PJ- he was all over the stage. I was so nervous he might fall or hurt someone." The words seems innocuous but my tone was sharp. When she nervously tried to soothe my nerves and empathize, I was short. Other teachers and students came over to tell PJ what a good job he did and me what a kick everyone got out of him, and I found myself unable to stop myself from a terse reply. By the time we got into the frigid air to head home, I was blinking back tears.
I didn't feel rational again until the next morning, when we were in the car heading to Atlantic City for a cheerleading competition. PJ's behavior during the Ghost Busters skit was sweet and funny and brave. He was hamming it up for the crowd and it was so him. But during the finale, I could see that he was overwhelmed. It could have been dangerous had he fallen off the stage or started swinging his little jet pack at someone. Mainly, I didn't want to hear people laughing at my son. But none of those emotions excused my behavior, and I made sure I found his teacher today to apologize for being such as ass. I was an ass.
PJ is a child that sometimes does his own thing. That could be due to Autism, or it could be due to his being my child. I was worried for his safety while he was on that stage, but I was also worried about an unkind word or mean laugh in his direction. I worry so much about how different he is that I forget to embrace how different he is. My best guy stole the show. It wasn't the first time, and it certainly won't be the last!