My 4-year-old and almost 6-year-old came out of the playroom dressed up in matching Princess Tori outfits, little fake high heels, matching Barbie guitars and crowns (that were on crooked). They were, as my 4-year-told me, “ready to rock out!”
She strums the Barbie electric guitar, and the doll’s voice rings out and agrees with her: “Let’s rock out!” Suddenly every mom’s favorite (not) song comes on: “I’m a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world. Life in plastic, it’s fantastic…” My 4-year-old’s service dog is present for the act, too. He’s like the back-up singer; the girls a pink boa comfortably on him. This doesn’t faze him, as he wears his service dog vest every day at school. He watches “his girl” as he always does and wears the boa and every once in a while glances at me — I swear this dog is super-human; it was like we both were thinking, “Yes, the kids are adorable, but, dear God make this song end.” Then again, it’s hard to take seriously a dog wearing a pink boa.
As the song was drawing near: “Imagination, life is your creation,” I saw the concert quickly turn south. My 4-year-old lifted her guitar above her head, alla The Who’s Pete Townsend. My right hand went up as I saw a flash of a pink boa fly by me. “Woof!” Then I heard my oldest daughter say, “Ouch!” Too. Late. Pink boa and I were about five seconds too late. Tommy-can-you-hear-me had planted her guitar flat on her sister’s head. Let the tears and fights begin. This is a normal day in the household of a 4-year-old on the spectrum, a 1-year-old service dog, a just-about-6-year-old (going on 25) and a single 40-year-old mom. This is how we rock out.
After the band broke up, my eldest’s ankle decided to break up. She was bouncing in a bouncy house and her ankle broke… two weeks before her 6th birthday. My daughter had broken this same ankle on the playground one year prior while at school. I couldn’t believe it. She couldn’t believe it. Last time, it wasn’t what they called “severe,” and the cast was off in four and a half weeks. She was brave. I was hoping for the same turn out this time. We went off to Urgent Care, where the people there confirmed the break but also confirmed it was a “for real break.”
The next morning, on my way to work, the orthopedist called and said to bring my daughter to them. So I turned my car around with Audrey and off we went to get a cast at the big hospital. The two toughest parts of the hospital trip were worrying if there would be any shots/needles (there were none) and worrying what color cast to get. Audrey settled with “hot lava pink,” as they couldn’t accommodate her request of “sunburst yellow.” I was nervous and full of worry; she was wearing doctor gloves and goofing off with the hospital staff. She was their “assistant.” She was rocking it. She’d already moved past the broken ankle and was enjoying the thought of showing her cast to classmates for the next six weeks. How Mommy brains and little kid brains operate so differently! She shifted gears immediately on the car ride home to, “I want to stop and get Sharpies so everyone can sign my cast. I want everyone’s autographs.” Of course. What rock star wouldn’t?
A weird thing happens to you when you become used to rocking out. You actually rock out so much that you stop sharing the news of your world tours. No phone calls, no on-the-road selfies, no live updates. Suddenly it’s you and the team rocking out and doing what you do.
When my 4-year-old got home, she saw the cast and was flat-faced about it. This is not unusual for her. She ran over to her sister and grabbed the cast and touched it and began to say, “Oh! does it hurt? Did it hurt? You can’t wear high heels! But you can wear a sock. Let me get a sock. A big sock.”.She asked me for a big sock. I a green striped one and we put it on Audrey’s cast. Somehow this is making it “all better.”
My youngest is singing throughout the whole thing: ” Hey, soul sista! Hey soul sista! Mista mista!” She loves this song by the group Train. She sings it constantly. I thought she would get sick of it. For a while she sang Katy Perry’s “Firework” and then moved on to Train. But she has yet to move on from Train. She totally rocks out to Train. She watches this music video on her Kindle Fire, and she sings at the top of lungs. She loves the dog in the video. The video is harmless and cool to watch, and song is cool (and Mommy likes it, so that is cool, too). Her favorite part is (as she sings it): “lipstick stain… corner of my left side brain… Hey! Soul sista… mista mista! Radio… Stereo… Hey soul sista!” Sometimes she starts the video over before it’s over, sometimes she watches it over and over and over. Other times she just sings it to herself. She just rocks out to it. But when big sis came home with a cast – little sis gave her some soul sista rockin out love by singing to her: : “soul sista! Hey da mista mista… radio! stereo!” That was her version of a Get Well card to her big sister. The best way she knew how.
It got better. “Wait! Wait!” my 4-year-old yelled, ran to get her Kindle and told her big sis to sit down.
Right there on the kitchen floor, the two of them sat. My little one used her little fingers to manipulate that Kindle faster than a speeding bullet. Long behold, there came that dark haired handsome Patrick Monahan (Train’s lead singer). “Hey… hey .. hey…. hey… hey… hey… Your lipstick stains, on the front part of my left side brain. I knew I wouldn’t forget you. And so I went and let you blow my mind. Your sweet moonbeam. The smell of you in every single dream I dream. I knew when we collided. You’re the one I have decided, who’s the one of my kind. Hey, soul sister…” It was awesome.
They sat arm and arm on the floor watching Train and didn’t move a muscle. They’ve seen the video 100 times. My little one rarely sits still. My older one likes other songs much better. But in that moment of arrival home, the older usually well child, who suddenly was not well, sat with the younger special needs child, and they were soul sisters rocking out and loving it out.
And I couldn’t have loved them (or Train) any more.
Want to end the stigma around disability? Like us on Facebook.
And sign up for what we hope will be your favorite thing to read at night.