Ah Christmas. I love the lights, the smell of winter and the Thank God We’re About to Stop-ness of it. The schools make it a very special time for both children. Christmas dinners, party hats, visits to Santa… and the Christmas production.
There is a Yiddish term: Kvell. It means, for the uninitiated, to be extraordinarily proud. It’s been a little appropriated as short term for overly gushy parents, but I’m about have a little parental kvell of my own… Sorry…
As an extremely grown up Year 4 (Somerset have a pyramid system for schooling so Emma is now – finally – one of the big kids. They transfer to middle school next year) Emma’s year group did a carol service in the local church. It was just beautiful. To see these children – most of whom we’d all known since their Reception days – stand up and sing with such gusto, such confidence. Small tears all round.
And Alex? Not to be outdone on any level, Alex had two productions. As he’s a split placement boy he got involved in each school’s show. We had many conversations with his mainstream school about this. We weren’t at all sure of his getting involved. He loves singing and he loves music so we knew he’d enjoy it but we didn’t want him to be the Disabled Kid on the end. Also, we remembered his nursery performance. It had been incredibly hard for us to watch him. When Alex is at home, he’s just Alex, but seeing him with other children his own age… it’s hard sometimes. At that performance I cried for a life a little bit lost as well as for being proud of Alex. We weren’t sure we could do that again.
But I’m so glad we did. He still was the disabled kid on the end (sighs… fire regulations – access to the ramp) but he was next to his peers. And maybe I’ve grown up too. There was my little boy – disabilities to the fore – and I was so proud… proud that he was there, proud that he enjoyed it and proud of my son. And so grateful to all the members of staff who made it happen.
But I have to tell you about the performance at his additional needs school too. I was nervous about this one but for different reasons – how was a production made up of 50 children with a variety of additional needs going to be? The show was A Christmas Carol and they had adapted it to work beautifully. There was a small amount of narration but otherwise there was singing, there was dancing and there was acting out the words. And there was a lot of call and repeat – the teacher would say the words and the children would shout it back – in time. It kept them engaged. Alex got to join in by being wheeled up to steal Scrooge’s money from his table whilst he slept. There was so much love and goodwill in that room. You really felt it. And Alex loved it, the whole thing, and you knew because he flapped his way through the entire production.
(‘Does that mean he’s happy?’, ‘Oh yes!’)
I love that Alex still accesses mainstream and I want that to continue for as long as it can. It’s good for him and it’s good for the other children too. I’m conscious that we’re pushing him out there a little, but any way he can go towards showing the next generation that disabled people aren’t to be feared, they’re just different… that’s got to be a good thing. Ultimately though, as his peers move on to more academia and less of the fun stuff, the additional needs school is where he’ll end up full time. And I’m so glad that this is a kind, nurturing environment that will help him thrive. That’s all most parents want for their children. It’s not a lot, but sometimes it feels like the world.
I am proud of these two for becoming the children that they are.