Tuesday, December 21, 2010

No more tartan knickers!

~"I pity the fool"~ Mr. T  .


 I was reading a post the other day where a mother stated "I don't believe people when they say they don't want sympathy for their child's disability.  Check the thesaurus, sympathy isn't a bad thing." No, sympathy properly expressed isn't a bad thing. In this case however, defining sympathy with synonyms is. Sympathy simply put is "pity". I can say with absolute certainty that I do not want pity because of my children's disabilities. That's just well...icky.  I mean really-pity? How absolutely insulting. Not just to me-but to my kids. If you want to pity me-do it for something worthwhile like a dental appointment or having to go to one of the kids school concerts. I'll gladly accept it then.

Speaking of which, This week I went to Oscars Christmas concert. Unlike the last concert, I was not armed with a designated driver and Valium.  I didn't even have Zoe as a distraction. I was all by myself. A woman-alone.  The only positive I could think of (besides Oscar performing) was that there was a new music teacher.  Yes, the woman who had brought us the "Greatest unknown hits of 17...(yes, the year 17) has retired!!  Not that I mean any disrespect. She was a lovely person who I learned much from-and it wasn't just patience!  I mean who could forget the woman who brought us the same exact Christmas show for the past five years?  I certainly didn't know that carols could also be dirges!  I'll always look back fondly on  Sammy's recorder angst  and who could forget "The gingerbread slave" ?  Good times...good times. She was a lovely lovely woman...I do believe that she truly cared about teaching music. I just think she got tired of it a few years before actually retiring from it. I wish her well.

  This concert was different. I knew it from the moment I got there.  I immediately went to find Oscar to let him know I had arrived-and he was acting odd.  He was so tense.  Usually the boy hops when he sees me..or at least smiles. He just sat there very stiffly-barely turning his head to acknowledge me. I thought "O.K.-he's almost ten now..maybe he's too cool for his mom"-at least in front of his friends.  so I went and took my usual place-at the back of the room...in the doorway..in case I have to leave quickly..because you never know when an emergency can conveniently  pop up.

  The concert started in the usual way-sort of. First up were the instrumentalists-kids who had only been playing a few months-but were ready to perform. There were only two numbers-and it was sweet. Yes, one girl did go off key with her saxophone quite a bit..but she was happy and proud of herself. Maybe because she didn't have to sit through a long speech about something old and musty beforehand or play in the dark as had been the tradition.  I thought it was wonderful.  Next to perform were the fourth graders-Oscar's group. I have to say-I was prepared to plaster on a smile while I chanted a mantra (in my head) of "please be fast please be fast" as I let my eyes unfocus and glaze over. But it wasn't necessary! Nope-the music teacher got up, gave a quick explanation of what they were singing ...GASP! Kwanzaa and Hanukkah as well as Christmas songs! They were actually singing songs less than 100 years old! From other cultures??!! Be still my heart! What about the usual * "Mold in the corn crib and Jesus wept"? or* "Tartan knickers Kumbaya"? No, these songs were perky and jazzy-so the kids were as well.  Even Oscar-who I could hear singing loudly-slightly raspy and off key.( Although he was still looking a bit stiff-even when they sang "Santa wants a brand new bag"..I put it off as him having too much sensory overload-and he was trying to keep it together. Regardless, it was pure joy to watch.)  Then they got to the last song "Everlasting Fruitcake"..a funny tune about a fruitcake that a family keeps giving away-but keeps getting back.  At the very end of the song-a doorbell rings..and my boy(MY BOY) steps down off of the riser and pretends to open the door. He is handed a fruitcake..he looks up-and at the top of his lungs announces "OH NO NOT AGAIN??!! WAAAAAAA!!" He  brought the house down. And amidst the applause and the high fives he was getting from his friends-he searched me out..and grinning from up on the stage..mouthed "mama.. did you see me?"  My heart just... overflowing..I mouthed back "Yes I did!"..he gave me another smile..a hop..and followed his class off of the stage..

  I had no idea Oscar was doing this..no idea that he had a line in the show. He had kept it from me as a surprise.  And surprised I was..and thrilled and overjoyed and so many other emotions I can't even list them.  Although I can say with total conviction-not one of them was sympathy-for either myself or my boy. He amazed me that day...and continues to do so everyday.  He works hard because he WANTS to..because he CARES. Because he is who he is-I pity anyone who thinks less of him for that.

  In some ways I am going to miss the old music teacher.  She gave me such good material. But I have to say, I really like the new one.


*-I took the liberty of making up those song titles..but trust me-they weren't too far off from what had really been sung in the past few years.

17 comments:

bbsmum said...

What a lovely Christmas gift your boy gave you! It must have taken superhuman willpower to keep that a secret from you!

Big Daddy Autism said...

I only accept pity if it comes along with a large check.

That is fantastic. What a great surprise.

Sarah said...

I love this. And if every holiday concert provides the inspiration for posts that make me laugh as hard as tartan knickers and the gingerbread slave, then I hope the new music teacher does them several times a year.

Looking for Blue Sky said...

One of the main reasons I stick a happy confident smile on my face is to avoid pity, we can't avoid the stares any more , but pity just makes me feel uncomfortable. I'd rather people asked if they could help, as that is something I do need! The story about the concert got me quite emotional, it's great when they achieve something you aren't expecting isn't it?

KWombles said...

Oh how wonderful! :-) You had me crying and laughing! Yay Oscar! I love the song titles!

Angela said...

So Proud of Oscar!! Yay! for you guys!

Laura said...

Totally Awesome!!! Thanks for sharing that. What a great story!

Go Oscar! Go Oscar!!!

Papa Bear said...

Hooray for Oscar!

D. S. Walker said...

Kathleen,
I love this post, you are too funny, and I totally agree about skipping the pity!

Happy Holidays to you and your wonderful family!
Aloha,
Sue

Anonymous said...

Yes, Kathleen you do deserve sympathy. You have been open about your horrid situation with your readers but, I feel you have not received the abundance of sympathy and empathy due you. I know you don't wear your troubles on your sleeve but, it is time to deal with this painful dilemma head on with open hearts and open minds. Dear Readers, Kathleen suffers from the lack of a second bathroom. It is a desperate situation. I know that she somehow manages to get through the day without a library, man cave, scrap-booking room or solarium. How does she do it? But, in addition to those missing rooms, which makes my heart cry for her, she struggles everyday with a lack of proper plumbing. Please weep for this dear, brave woman. It's time for her to yell out, "I'm Bathroom impaired!" and receive the sympathy due her.
With Deepest Sympathy,
Your Friend

Stephanie said...

Usage and denotation are not the same. In our culture sympathy has been hi-jacked the same way charity has been hi-jacked; the way they are used is not the same as they way they are defined.

That being said, I can sympathize with your, um, audience anxiety. So many of those pagents are just dreadful--not because of the kids, but because of what the adults make those little darlings do.

One benefit of having children with sensory sensitivities: I've been able to opt-out for both the younger boys of late. They can't handle it; so I don't have to!

kathleen said...

@bbsmum-Oh I know! lovely isn't it? This was HUGE for him..
@bigdaddy-I also accept cash and gift cards..:)
@Sarah-heehee-thanks.
@Bluesky-absolutely!! If people would only ask! They would learn a bit as well. This was an amazing feat for Oscar-I remain overwhelmed by it.
@Kwombles..heehee thanks!
@Angela-thanks..
@papabear-thanks
@DSWalker-thanks and happy holidays to you and yours as well.
@anonymous-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Thank you for the brilliant lovely laugh..p.s. I know who you are!
@Stephanie I totally agree with you. You are very wise..:) wish I had thought of it.

K- floortime lite mama said...

yay yay yay yay Oscar
What a kid
I started laughing remembering the ginger bread slaves and then teared up at Oscar's line and look to you
What a lovely look to have got from him

Anonymous said...

you know pity is strange , You can feel demeaned by it or boosted by it .

Every human is unique and presious . As a country/society we look at extremes from both sides instead of looking at what matters .

KWombles said...

I suppose it's possible that some people feel boosted by other people pitying them. I don't, but it may be the connotation I place on pity. You can feel for me, care about me, wish you could ease my burdens, but please don't feel sorry for me. Please don't elevate yourself at my expense.

Wikipedia defines it this way: "Pity evokes a tender or sometimes slightly contemptuous sorrow or empathy for people, a person, or an animal in misery, pain, or distress. People who have previously experienced the pain or misfortune in question may feel greater pity."

Feel compassionately for me, but please don't feel pity for me.

It's a shame that the English language is as imprecise as it is; we may be using separate connotations of the same word, leading to divides that don't really exist. :-)

kathleen said...

@K-floortime-thanks..yes, it was a lovely look-the BEST!
@Anonymous-Just speaking from my own personal experience-I have never felt boosted up by anyone pitying me. I guess I look at it this way..if someone is to look at me or my life and pity me-I take that to mean that they think my life or my kids lives are tragic-something "less then"..that we are somehow lacking. That isn't the case at all. I do think however, people feel boosted about their own lives when they pity someone else..I look at "reality television" and think it wouldn't be popular if they didn't show some people at their worst-so that the audience can say-"I feel bad for them-glad its not me" Or in the case of something like "The Jerry Springer Show" people can say"Glad I'm not that horrible" Sure, pity like that boosts people. I spend most of my time seeing what matters..which was the point of this post.
@ Kim-compassion? YES! empathy? YES! pity-sorrow for the specifics of how my life is? NEVER!

Anonymous said...

Hi Dear,

Great Post! Oscar is wonderful.
I pity anonymous. Love, Ei