Alive, alight in blonde ringlet pigtails, the only little white girl in her pre-school special education class takes her place. Now onstage with her African American friends, lined up in Sunday best, starched shirts, bow ties, painstakingly- beaded- braids, bows, shiny patent leather shoes, fidgeting, eyes wide at the crowd of cell phones, cameras, snapping pics, and humming with the anticipation of the performance set to begin. I’m in my seat, phone ready, looking between the heads of two mothers in front of me, wondering how this will go. And then they began to sing. “The world is a rainbow- with many kind of people…” And the quiet timid voices grew with choreographed hand gestures, led by their teacher conducting below. Suddenly, without warning, as if lit with her own spotlight- emanating from within, she sang louder, and louder, dance moves getting groovier, and hipper, and belting it out now, above all the voices around her, echoing across the sea of parents now giggling affectionately at the tiny blonde diva letting it rip. Oh my god what is she doing? Oh my god everyone is laughing. Oh my god, look at her moves! I began to laugh, laugh deeply, laugh from the floor of my gut, joy exploding out of my depths, mothers next to me, in front of me “girl is that your baby?” “go on girl” “get it girl” they shouted at her, the crowd now cheering her on, a roar of joy around me, she there belting it out, pointing at the crowd “you can be you and I’ll be me……that’s the way it’s supposed to be” A star is born, the crowd going wild, heaven and earth collide in me, in my laughter, in my breath- like busting through the surface of the water after nearly drowning, coming up for air, the moment I first knew, she will be fine, she will be better than fine, she will be a rock star, she is a rock star, she has brought the house down, and they love her. They will love her, she will find her way, and she is free, oblivious to herself, not afraid, not self-conscious, alight, in the pure joy of her song.
I am a mom of two beautiful daughters, one with the gift of autism.
They both surprise and amaze me when I least expect it.