Last night, the first graders at Carrie Busey Elementary School had a holiday concert, where they sang carols. They asked us to be there by 5:30 p.m. So we were on time, but I had a feeling getting there 30 minutes before the concert began was going to be a problem. X-man was amped and ready to go the minute he went in the doors. But there was nothing for the kids do until the concert started at 6 p.m., and since we were in the gym, they felt like running. So a slew of kids started a game of tag. He stopped twice to hug both of his first grade teachers.
About 5:50 p.m. some kids started getting lined up on the riser. X-man figured no adult had told him to stop playing, so he kept running.
The next thing we knew, he was sitting on the ground between the two audience areas crying. This is not unusual for events like this. They're really not built to be successful for children with social anxiety issues. I guess one of his friends said something about how it was time for him to stop running and to sit down. X-man inferred that what he was doing was bad. So he cried. He doesn't want to be bad. He was having fun. How can having fun with his friends make him bad?
He crawled up in my lap, but it wasn't making him feel better. I noticed Awesome's Mom had moved from her folding chair seat to the wall on the far side of the gym. Awesome wasn't sure if he wanted to sing or not. So, I headed over there with X-man. The music teacher starting singing songs with some musical friends, and X-man got upset that they'd have to wait even longer to go up there. He started crying again. "Why are they singing at our concert? Why do we have to wait more? I'm so tired."
X-man told me he was suddenly scared to go up there. He was afraid of all the cameras. What if he got nervous and started to cry again and all the cameras took pictures of him crying? Then he noticed that the smartboard with the lyrics didn't have the lyrics on them like it was supposed to, and he cried about that. The principal went to see if he could fix that for him (because like most people, if there's something that can be done, he's the kind of guy that will totally "make it so.")
He missed two songs. "I practiced so hard, Mommy. I want to sing those songs." He started to cry again. I told him that we could go home or he could show me what he practiced and sing in my lap or he could give standing up there a try for at least one song. He wasn't sure. He tried to take me with him. But then changed his mind. That's when one of his teachers, Mrs. Cabutti, came over and backed me up. He hugged me and I walked him to the edge of the audience. Then he ran up there and waved me back to the wall.
Like a trooper, he sang the whole concert staring at the lyric board reading along. If it got off track, he'd try to look up to the words on the screen projected on the wall for the audience to sing along. He put up his hand a time or two to block out some of the people with their cameras out to help him not be so afraid. You could tell he was nervous, but he was rallying.
And then something unexpected happened. A first grader's little brother climbed up on the risers next to X-man. X-man thought this was pretty adorable. He likes the unexpected. He kept his eye on him and tried to help him out. He figured he just wanted to sing, too. He even picked him up once, wondering if he could return him to his mother or if it was okay for him to stay. :-)
Besides crying, the other way I know X-man is working on emotions in his brain is that he chews on everything. His sleeves were in his mouth most of the night. He seeks sensory feedback when he's anxious, it's also when he has most of his sensory sensitivities (shoes or socks are uncomfortable, itchy underwear, etc.)
But at the end of singing, "All I Want for Christmas Are My Two Front Teeth," He turned and smiled right at me (MacTroll took the photos). It was awesome. I applauded very loudly at the end of each song. I was so proud of him for overcoming his fears and getting up there, and Mrs. Cabutti was, too.