Tales From A Fifth Grade Musical

Monday night was the first I'd heard of it -- my 10-year-old isn't particularly *ahem* organized, so when he thrust the fuck-me-in-the-eyes orange document into my hands, I wondered if I hadn't asked him to clean out his backpack, if I'd have been given any notice whatsoever.

We're working on his organizational skills.

Anyway, Monday night I learned that we'd been cordially invited to his school for his fifth grade musical.

First I'd heard of any musical whatsoever. But that's fine -- we got the information in time.

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So last night, we took him to school, sitting in the auditorium of his school for the last time (to see him) as he'll be moving on out to sixth grade in a few short months, just as his brother moves into that school as a kindergartner.

It's a shame we didn't time things better -- those two are thick as thieves and I know my middle son could've used the support of his big brother.

It was just the two of us, a friend and I, sitting in the back row, waiting for the lights to go on, signaling the beginning of the musical. I sat there, surrounded by parents at least ten years my senior, as I waited for my precious firstborn to take the stage.

And there he was. Along with his classmates, my son took his place on the stage and accompanied the singing with his violin. I thought of all we'd been through.

Flash: the moment, age twenty, I discovered I was (against all odds) pregnant by my abusive ex.

Flash: the shame of moving back in with my unhappy parents to finish school and raise this small creature into a real person.

Flash: the crushing guilt I felt each day as I left him in the morning to become a nurse - having given up my dream at becoming a doctor.

Flash: learning that my brilliant little boy, the one who was obsessed with the moons of Jupiter and hotly debated the removal of Pluto as a planet was autistic.

Flash: having him, age three, watch me graduate college with highest honors.

Flash: marrying my husband, watching my husband make his vows to Ben in front of everyone.

Flash: watching him delight in his new baby brother, exuding more happiness than I'd ever before seen out of him.

Flash: watching him learn that he was, in fact, different than other kids.

Flash: watching him graduate from kindergarten.

Flash: watching him hope and pray for his baby sister, born so sick.

Flash: seeing my three children, squeal and chase each other in delight, knowing I've finally created the perfect family for my eldest -- the family I've always wanted to give him.

And there he was, singing about heroes, carefully reciting his lines and dancing in a choreographed musical.

What he didn't notice, as I sat back in maternal pride, knowing I'd done right by my first child, was the tears welling up in my eyes.

What he doesn't know is that he, the one who forever changed my life, is my hero.

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