“‘Ohana' means family. Family means nobody gets left behind, or forgotten.” - Lilo and Stitch
If you've known our family at all, you know to some degree how important music is to us. Not at all hard to see. It's important in both of our families in different ways. I've joked when, with Eric's family, we sing the Doxology before a meal, that "Y'know, there really oughta be auditions as part of joining this family!" Thank the Lord I can carry a tune! It's so much fun to participate in worship like that.
Anyway, it's not a surprise we want to share that world with our children. I'd dreamed of having my kids at every concert, enjoying the music, the same way my five-year-old sister used to sit on the podium while I conducted as the drum major my senior year high school. I just expected that life would be that way.
In a world where you have to sit really still and quiet, not much ground exists for people who aren't quite capable of this. I had my own problems in college with learning concert etiquette. I had sung in church and school choirs, been in band, gone to contests and all that mess since the sixth grade, but I knew little about behavior in the pro music world. So there was I, just a girl from the hills of eastern Oklahoma, completely clueless that people were supposed to make those hilarious faces when they sang! Did I mention that the school of music at Hardin-Simmons, while I was there for band, is made up of more than 80% vocal music majors? Did I mention that? So having to attend a lot of recitals made me learn to bite the insides of my cheeks to keep from giggling. I had great friends who knew more about this than I did who shepherded me, and elbowed me before the dean had a chance, and I'm still grateful for that.
But there are things you just don't do. You don't enter or leave the hall during a movement. You don't clap till the conductor puts his or her arms down. You don't talk. You don't laugh for sure. You don't make noise at all. I can remember being at a philharmonic concert in college when, during a most beautiful, soft passage in a long, multi-movement work for full choir and orchestra, a man was hacking his head off. Not coughing. Hacking. his. head. off. The conductor cut off, turned around, dramatically pointed at the man, brushed his hand at the man to show him the door, turned back around, and started the movement over.
That's the world I was used to. And I loved it. I loved the sacredness, the protection of the sheer beauty that was music. In the before time, when Ryan was a baby and we had no reason to suspect he was at all neurodiverse, we took him to drum corps shows (you really ought to go sometime, by the way), concerts, and even a clinic or two at convention.
Then he got bigger, the autism showing, and no longer are we terribly welcome in any kind of professional music venue.
Not gonna lie, it hurts. On several levels.
Yes, we play recordings. Yes, we're teaching him what we can. But as ol' Dr. Wolz said in music literature at good ol' HSU, "When you listen to a recording of music you're not listening to music; you're listening to *dramatic pause* a RECORDING." Completely different to hear it in person.
So you can imagine my ethereal delight in stumbling across this on Pinterest, of all places.
This is a video of a concert given by the organization Music for Autism. I cried and cried while I watched it. I really fell apart when I saw a little boy stimming (hand flapping) in delight as he listened and watched. The sheer joy in the childrens' faces as they experience live, professional music. Oh my word. Living in the rural area in which we do, I figured there was just no chance. I was so wrong. One concert in the south, and it's in Houston on April 21. And get this... they're FREE.
Can you say "Godsend?"
I've operated for a long time, giving my musical past away to whatever I needed to be able to be there and be the best wife and mom possible. And I've agonized over ways to incorporate the music world into our autism-puzzle-piece-colored world, usually only to be left broken-hearted. Then I saw this and realized... we don't leave family behind. We're a "You go, we go" kind of family. Until this concert, I saw no way to incorporate all of us into a professional music setting without leaving someone behind. We've let great concerts go by at convention, watching our friends' reactions on Facebook and Twitter updates. We've resigned to the fact that concerts just aren't going to happen for a while, maybe never, maybe with just a kid at a time. But then we saw this, and now we get our turn!
And Ryan's already excited. We didn't officially "tell" him, he just overheard and has subsequently asked about fifty times already when he gets to go to a concert.
And more than thrilled, we're seeing this as yet another way God hears us. He knows us. He knows our pain, our desires, and what makes us happy. It may seem little to someone else, but He knows.
“In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I called. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry came to his ears." ~2 Samuel 22:7
He hears, He cares, and He loves us!
Thanks be to God not just for this opportunity... for being who He is, to love us in this way!!!