We were lucky enough to participate in one of the coolest field trips ever—we got to see the Charlotte Hornets play the Detroit Pistons. It was a live game played just for schools in our area.
We were a pack of seven students, seven adults, and four cars. We were armed and ready, and we could take a student back to school anytime needed. Please note here that Michael attends a private school for kids on the spectrum, so this one to one ratio was necessary.
We made it to our seats without incident. The loud rhythmic music started. The kids soaked everything in. No tantrums, no panic attacks, no screaming. The stadium, the music, the players, the students, and the caring parents and teachers—it was awesome!
When our kids started dancing, the joy on our faces and in our hearts was palpable. To look in the adults’ eyes was to see tears of joy and shock. There were no words to describe this feeling of watching our kids dance, laugh, and smile in a public place. It was simply and powerfully complete joy in our hearts.
These are our kids, the ones with the alphabets after their names on their “diagnosis” sheets. The ones with ASD, OCD, PDD, SID, ADD, ADHD, etc. were at a real live basketball game and they were dancing! Talk about a redefinition of success, we were at our pinnacle in this moment. They were having an absolute blast.
They noticed the Jumbotron in the middle of the arena showing people in the audience. A few times the camera swept our way and they saw themselves on the big screen. They pointed and jumped up and down, determined to make it onscreen again. We were waiting and watching and clapping right along with them. It went on like this for a while. It was over an hour until the game started, but the players came out to practice. There was quite a bit going on with the music blaring, all the other students arriving, and the announcer pumping up the crowd.
The entire time the camera showed dancing kids from the audience. Our kids waited and waited to see themselves again. They’d get so close and then the camera would swing away just as it neared us. “Ah, man!” “So close!”
And then it happened again.
And again. So close and then the Jumbotron would switch to another part of the audience.
I realized what was happening.
The cameraman was intentionally, from what I can tell, not spotlighting our kids.He wasn’t showing our beautiful dancing kids, who just by being at this event were experiencing an amazing triumph. No, the cameraman made the choice to stop putting the camera on our kids.
I could be imagining this, but after our kids’ second appearance on the Jumbotron, they were never shown there again, even though they danced their hearts out.
Taking a breath was never so necessary to work through the emotions of the heartbreak. Because that is what I was feeling, along with rage, confusion, and sorrow.
We’re different and we get it. You have no idea how we know this to our core.
We’re goofy. Check.
Offbeat? We got that too.
Helping or Hindering?
The debate for me: was the cameraman helping? Or hindering? If he featured our goofy, beautiful, offbeat boys, would the others in the crowd try to find us and stare at our group with disdain? Wonder? Ridicule? Or would we be celebrated like everyone else?
I don’t know the answer. I know I’m left with heartbreak and resolve. This is what my life looks like raising a different-brained child.
I wish it had happened another way. I wish these children were revered and celebrated for the accomplishment and huge success that we experienced. And I do wish the cameraman would have put the spotlight on them more.
With love for all that we are,
You can catch me over on Facebook to continue the conversation and tell me about that time when . . .