Wednesday, October 10, 2012

There is a Place

Recently, a friend of Jared's, a senior in high school, a young lady who absolutely loves to sing, was told that, due to a lack of teacher aide coverage, she would be able to just sit and watch the choir sing every day. Sit and watch?! Our children have often been the ones who have to sit and watch while others go to the mall or hang out with friends, or drive, or go to college.  Sure, out kids go to the mall; they hang out with friends, but these are arranged, social times sorted out by parents, organized by those of us who want our kids to have opportunities to be teenagers.  And while these are good and wonderful opportunities for them, it is hard sometimes for out kids to just be, to just do.  So, they sit and watch.  They watch the limousines spill out typical peers in front of prom; they watch as the students who graduated from school last year go off to college, to a life unfettered by "parental arrangement".  So, when they are asked to stay to the side of the group, to sit quietly and take in the songs of those other students who don't struggle with voice, pitch, or tone, it saddens me.  Our children do sound different, but one thing I find when Jared sings with a large group, be it church choir or last year's school chorus, is that my ears strain to hear that voice, albeit untrained and sometimes wavering, and yes, sometimes way out of tune.  I am glad that his distinct sound helps my ears find his music.  It doesn't much matter how it sounds, but that it is heard, don't you think?

     So, it is with this story in mind that I want to share something.  I want to tell of a place, Gigi's Playhouse, where young parents can come to grips with what it means to have a baby with Down Syndrome, a place where our kids can get help with reading, writing, and math; a place where there is a stage where all are welcome to sing, to act, to dance, and where it doesn't matter if you are unable to carry a tune, or can't always get your body to do what it is supposed to do.  I share this because, while the world is getting better at accepting that there are differences, we still need to get better at figuring out that everyone needs a place to belong.  For now, we have buildings and groups of fantastic people pulling for our kids, fighting for their footprint to grow.  Let's hope this is just a start; that Gigi's Playhouse will model for the world, in its own small way, that no one needs to sit on the side and watch, that we can all get up on that stage and have our voices heard.