Monday, March 26, 2012

Oompa Loompa Doopity Do!

      Sophia starred in her first musical this past weekend debuting as an Oompa Loompa in her school's version of Willie Wonka Jr.  Proud does not even come close to describing our emotions watching Sophia on the stage singing and dancing and totally enjoying herself.

       When Sophia tried out for the musical back in January we had no idea what to expect.   What if she didn't even get cast in the show? Sophia was super excited when she found out she was going to be an Oompa Loompa.  She wanted the part of Violet Beauregarde so that she could chew lots of gum but was fine with being an Oompa Loompa.

        We, too, were excited for this new activity but had many worries.  In our own minds, we were battling with a few fears and decisions. The biggest dilemma was do we tell the Director about Sophia's Fragile X or do we let Sophia be a "kid without a label" for once. Had Sophia NOT been doing so well socially and academically we probably wouldn't have even thought twice about telling everyone about Sophia's disability but she HAD been doing so well. Here was an opportunity to let Sophia be Sophia. Let Sophia prove to everyone (mostly her dad and I, I guess) that she does have the ability to do something just like her peers. To do something without constant adult supervision and redirection. It was our chance (perhaps our obligation) to trust Sophia. To give her the space to prove that she can be more independent. For the record, there were two women involved with the musical that knew Sophia from helping out in her classroom over the years. So, it wasn't like we would be leaving Sophia with no safety net if she had difficulty. Rather than the usual huge safety net though it was small.  Perhaps one of our faults is that her dad and I have difficulty letting go.  We want to control so much about our kids' life.  We want to be there to make sure no one makes fun of them.  To make sure they are included.  To make sure they are behaving.  To be there when they falter.  It's hard to let go.  What did we decide to do?  We gave the Director the watered down version of Sophia's disability.  We told her about Sophia's anxiety and that a break from the play or a walk outside would help if she was getting stressed.  Ahem, we simply forgot to tell her about the cursing.  We reassured her that we were confident Sophia would be fine.  However, a little voice in my head kept saying "What in the world are you thinking?  You know what a meltdown for Sophia looks like and who in the world will be able to handle that?  What if your plan fails?"   Like I said, the safety net was there for Sophia just smaller than normal.   The women assured me they'll look out for Sophia.  I'd be lying if I didn't admit that we constantly second guessed our decision.  We anticipated doing lots of  damage control after the show was over.

      Practices started in January.   I picked Sophia up after one of the first few practices and asked how it was.  She told me that she took a nap and yes, from the looks of her sleepy eyes and hair she must have been snoozing a while.  I questioned why no one woke her up but she didn't know.  (Ugh, did I make the wrong decision? Did they let her sleep because they didn't want to be bothered? Would I need to be more on top of things?)  I let the nap slide and hoped for better success in the future.   In February, I realized that while I had given Sophia a lot of independence I was still walking her from my car into the school just to make sure she got where she was going.  (I told you it was difficult to let go.)  Sounds silly but it was extremely difficult for me to drop her off at the curb and watch her walk into school by herself. It's probably the most simple thing to let go of but I had trouble.  There was no danger in letting her walk into the school with all the other kids.   I mean, I could see her the entire way.  I just had to let go.  Let go I did.

      In mid-February when Sophia was at one of her practices she texted me to "call Ashley (the Director) she is mean."  When Sophia says someone else is mean it usually means she has made a red choice and has gotten into trouble.  I texted back "are you OK?"  and she texted back "No."  Within a few minutes the phone rang and it was Ashley.  She proceeded to tell me that Sophia refused to practice a dance and had a meltdown.  At that moment, things had settled down but she wanted to let me know there had been some difficulty. When I heard meltdown I am envisioning Sophia swearing, hitting and causing a scene.  I got to the school to pick up Sophia and found out that the "meltdown" was her just refusing to dance and that Sophia asked for a break!  That was no meltdown!!  That was success!!  She realized she needed a break and asked for it!   

      The March calendar came and the kids had practice practically 5 days a week leading up to the show.  We were worried that Sophia wouldn't be able to handle all the long hours on top of the stress of school and homework.  Sophia proved us wrong.  She handled everything fine.

      The kids performed the musical on Friday and Saturday night.  Sophia had to be at the school at 4:30 PM to get ready for the 7:00 PM show.  Again, we wondered how Sophia would do passing the time till the show?  Again, she did fine. 

      The show was a huge success.  The kids had a party after their final performance.  When I came back to pick up Sophia at the end of the party I was stopped by three other moms who praised Sophia for a job well done.  What I was told next made us proud beyond words. I was told that Sophia received 1 of the 5 "Paper Plate" Awards as voted on by her peers.  Sophia's won the "Most Enthusiastic" Award.  What does that mean?  It means that we  ABSOLUTELY made the right decision.  It means that Sophia rose to the occasion.  Sophia was not there as the "special needs kid" but as Sophia Parker, a Palmyra 7th grader, one of the Oompa Loompas. and a young lady who always tries her hardest with enthusiasm.  

       I am normally not a risk taker but I'm glad that Sophia was able to prove me wrong.  While I may not take another gamble on Sophia's behavior like that for a while I'm glad I can share this success story. 

A job well done Sophia!
My most favorite Oompa Loompa!

The official Paper Plate Award (literally)!

1 comment:

  1. That is so AWESOME! I would have loved to have seen her. What a wonderful story.