No, seriously. Christopher Ulmer, a young special-ed teacher from Florida, came and interviewed us for a project he’s working on called Special Books by Special Kids. He’s been traveling the East Coast recording his encounters with special-needs families along the way.
Here’s a link to the video. Just about all of the kids show up—all except our youngest, who was too wrapped up in video games to be bothered with an interview. Enjoy!
Some random thoughts as I watch my son perform in the Frederick Children’s Chorus Christmas concert.
I never thought I’d see this day. This is the kid who didn’t talk until he was four years old, and here he is on stage, singing! This is the kid who couldn’t sit still to save his life, and here he is patiently and carefully following the director’s every move. This is the kid who could zone out at any point and lose track of his surroundings, and here he is completely and totally engaged in the concert.
Look at him up there singing so enthusiastically! That autistic black-and-white thinking has enabled him to focus so completely on getting everything right, just as he has practiced it for the past four months. He is doing everything exactly as he has been taught. Every movement executed with great precision. Every word enunciated clearly and crisply. That smile radiating so innocently.
Seeing him so dedicated to the performance here helps me understand what he meant when he complained about chorus practice a few weeks ago. He didn’t enjoy it, he told me, “because it was too much fun.”
— “What? I can understand not fun enough, but how can you have too much fun?”
— “Oh, you know, all the other kids were goofing off too much, and I wanted to get down to work. They were having too much fun when I was serious about learning the music.”
See that picture up there? That’s the same kid at his school’s winter concert. Yes, he is in two choruses—the school chorus and the much more competitive citywide chorus. At the school’s concert, not only did he sing in the chorus, he had a solo. My son. On stage. By himself. With a microphone.
I used to wonder what the future looked like for him. Would he be able to live on his own? Would he find a job? Friends? Love? Now I’m dreaming about how far he’ll go in life. It seems like the sky’s the limit for this kid.
His other passion, in addition to music, is cooking. He often helps Katie around the kitchen. Just the other night he and I baked Christmas cookies together. He was so confident and competent, so invested in what we were doing, so willing to learn and experiment. I don’t doubt for a minute that his dream job—owning his own restaurant—is within reach. It’s not just a pipe dream that I humor; it’s a real goal that I absolutely can see him accomplishing.
I see what you can do, son. When I remember what you were like a few years ago and see what you are accomplishing right now, I am convinced that your future is very bright. It’s so bright that my eyes are beginning to sting. Hang on a second while I wipe them with this tissue.
This is the best Christmas present I could ever receive.