Since my goal with this site is to share our stories, I am going to share a lesson I learned while our son was able to participate in an incredible opportunity. First I will tell you about this experience then I will share my lesson.
For the 4th time, SPARC produced Live Art. The simple description is that it is a show involving over 200 kids of all abilities who perform live on stage with local, national and international artists and musicians. The reality is that it so much more than that. They come together to sing, dance and share on the Atria Theater Stage. Jason Mraz, who was the headlining guest artist during the first show has had a hand in the creative design of each of the 4 shows. He was a SPARC kid when he was young. The guest artists and musicians seem to compliment the students. They make the students the focus of the performance. It’s obvious that none of them are there for the glory…it’s all about the kids. Attending this event needs to be on your list. Follow SPARC and check the website (Sparconline.org) to see the history of Live Art. They will be featured on PBS as well. http://www.fromthewingsmovie.com/. SPARC is a non-profit and relies on contributions for operating support, scholarships, and outreach programs.
SPARC has given so much to us through this experience. I would never have imagined watching typically developing students and students with special needs on a stage together, all given the same chance to shine! What a gift, truly magical.
Our son attended classes for 8 months, during this time –
-he made friends
-he learned his dance and song routine
-he gained confidence
-he gained the gift of being part of a community
-he was able to be on a stage in front of 3000 people and perform
-he knew his role, he knew where and when to be and he could not wait!
The artists that come each year vary as does the theme. The staff and volunteers work hard and long to get this together and it shows! Just one small example, Marky, 1 of 200 kids, gets out of our car for rehearsals the last few days and EVERY person that helped get him to where he needed to be, knew HIS name! They always had smiles, they offered comfort to all the parents who worried it was too much for their kids and they helped to put on a show that left us all FULL of life and love!
So, what was my lesson you ask? I had a humbling moment during rehearsals. Our son is not one to ever really complain, he goes with the flow. We tend to wonder sometimes if he is doing things he wants to or just doing it because we have suggested. The rehearsals were intense, a LOT of work goes into this show. On the second day, I said to my husband, “this is a lot for him, he can’t do this, it is too long and too much.”
My husband agreed. I asked our son, in many different ways, if he was ok going. Every time, the answer was yes.
All of a sudden, a light went off in my head. This was NOT too much for our son, he had NO issue with the time, length or frequency, he LOVED it all. The issue was ME! I was struggling with having him be a part of something I was not familiar with and I was selfishly having a hard time juggling getting him there. I took a deep breath, discussed this with my husband and concluded that this was not about me, it was ABOUT and FOR Marky and that if this was one of our “typical kids”, it would not have been an issue. I ate some humble pie and made sure he got there for every one!
He asks for so little and it is easy to sometimes take for granted his needs and wants. I share this because I am so proud of him for being in this show and for working so hard to make it happen. I am proud of him for his positive attitude and the life lessons he learned and shared with the people he came into contact with. I am also proud of myself, for admitting that I almost made a terrible mistake. Parenting is hard. Its being able to adapt and change, to love and listen and to admit when you are about to make a terrible mistake because you’re just terrified. I am grateful for the support and for knowing that so many people out there get my struggle. It’s such a comfort knowing I’m not alone. Marky says, “Of course, it’s a life skill, mom”.