Friday, December 9, 2011

No Harmony During School Concert

We went to the holiday concert at our son’s school yesterday. Before it was to begin, we saw everyone in his class walk by as they went to the waiting area. Kai seemed in good spirits.

The concert began and other kids came out to perform their numbers. Kai and the majority of the children apparently were to remain in back until it was their turn.

As the kids performed some long numbers, my wife and I wondered how Kai was doing while he was waiting. He often doesn’t do well with waiting.

Finally, it was his group’s turn. But, he didn’t come out with them. It was a sure sign that something was wrong.

Then we saw one of the staff rush by, carrying a large blue pillow back to the area where Kai was. The pillow serves as a security blanket for Kai, and the staff frequently uses it to help him calm down after an incident.

We watched the entire concert, wondering if Kai still might come out. But he never did. When the concert was over, we went to find out what happened to him.

We found him sitting in the ‘quiet room’ on his large blue pillow. Though he was now calm, it was very evident that he must have created quite a ruckus.

His face was red. He still had tears in his eyes. And he was shirtless, having completely tattered the one he was wearing.

His school therapist explained that Kai wanted to go first when the kids were lining up. He couldn’t accept that he would have to wait his turn.

My wife was volunteering at the book fair they were having, so I sat with Kai. We hear about his incidents at school all the time, but actually seeing him like this was tough.

I rubbed his back and comforted him, while also talking to him about how hard it is to wait, but that it is something he needs to learn how to do.

When he was finally ready to go home, he didn’t want to wear the spare shirt the staff member brought over to replace the one he destroyed. In the car, he didn’t want to listen to music.

When we got home he went up to his room and cuddled up with his favorite blanket. I quietly spoke with him some more about waiting his turn. He said that he wanted the concert to start over again. I explained that it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes you don’t get to re-do things.

Eventually he settled down.

Special events like a holiday concert are memorable. But in this case, I’ll remember that image of him sitting shirtless on his blue pillow far longer than I would have remembered him singing holiday songs.


  1. I really feel for you on this one, especially as we have also just had to endure the Christmas show for our little girl. It's just so hard to see them so upset. She did manage to hold it together, just, long enough to walk on stage - but she was the only child wearing school uniform rather than a costume, and she made her ever-present cuddly toy, Terry the turtle, do the song actions for her. As soon as that bit was done, she insisted on leaving the hall rather than sit through the rest of the show and group songs with all the other children. It did make me really sad, but also a little confused as to why we try and make them all conform so much. Whilst Kai does need to learn turn taking, maybe then really wasn't the right time to push home that point. Flexibility is really needed when trying to understand and help our children, and sadly that does seem to be lacking a lot of places. :(

  2. Thanks, Steph.

    You raise a valid question about whether we make our kids conform too much. In this instance with Kai, I was a bit surprised that they made the kids wait so long backstage. Typical kids could probably handle it, but it turned out to be too much for our son. And that occasion was probably not the most opportune for teaching him.

    That is sweet that your daughter made it through her part with the help of her turtle toy. It sounds like it was all she could do to keep it together.

  3. Awww. I'm so sorry. It's hard sometimes, isn't it? When they are doing well it wonderful and when they aren't I think it's harder on us as parents, isn't it? I do love that he can talk...oh, how I envy that!

    Our boys 'participated' in the school concerts until about 2nd grade. Then we all decided it wasn't worth it for us, them or the other kids.

    Big hugs to your sweet little guy...and prayers and hopes that next time you will be pleasantly surprised at his progress! :)

  4. Remember this will be one of those charming and laugh inducing stories to share with Kai when he gets older.

    I recall with my son, some of his moments in the past. He often says he doesn't remember them...then he starts breaking out into full belly laughs and gets a little embarrassed...but we have a good time remembering.

  5. Hi Betsy,

    I'm sure it was really tough for you to see your boys at the school concerts and not able to participate.

    Thanks for the well wishes!

  6. Shiroi Tora-san,

    Yes, hopefully we can laugh about it in the future. Hard to see right at the moment, but I know that I we will continue to work toward the time when we'll be able to look back at these times and see how far our son has come.

  7. I find that people sometimes forget who our kids are when it comes to planning these things. We forget how hard it is to do things like wait in line.. and then kids have meltdowns. I promise you it's not just Kai. I have had kids refuse to go on stage, kids run off stage, and kids scale my body like they're monkey babies and i'm a tree. It's tough, because it is SO rewarding to see them succeed and perform, and some kids LOVE it but it's also SO hard to alter their routine and get them to do things like wait. We usually keep the kids occupied until right before they go on.

    Yuji, he will get there! But i know that image won't leave your mind. HUGS to you and Kai

  8. Molly, Kai goes to a therapeutic school so they are usually very good about not putting kids into difficult situations. We were surprised the kids had to wait so long.

    Thanks for the encouragement and well wishes!


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