For those that have been to see the show, you may remember there's one small part in it where I talk about living in the moment. Children with special needs seem to have a knack and a skill at doing it far better than the rest of us.
And it got me thinking about School Plays. Now, I'm no expert on the subject, having not been to many. When The Boy first started in Reception Class of a mainstream school, he took part in a school play. When I say took part, he was given the role of 'Scene 2'. This difficult, challenging role involved him being walked across the front of the stage in the firm grip of a Teaching Assistant with the sign 'Scene 2' stuck to his front and back. I was particularly proud of him, as I was of the other five children deemed unsuitable to play any meaningful part in the proceedings. Special mention goes to 'Scene 4' who had the brilliant idea to crawl across. I don't know whatever happened to that boy, but I salute him.
The Boy did perform in one play at his last Special School. It was moving, and inclusive, and chaotic, and shambolic, and just brilliant. There was no real story - one class were sheep, another class were Father Christmas, but it was one of the best things I've ever seen to this day. And I've seen more cat videos on YouTube than you'll ever know.
But the frustrating thing while this play was going on was that the children weren't performing to an audience. They were performing to a sea of smartphones and ipads all pointed in the air, recording away, desperate to capture the moment. But moments like that can't be captured on film. Film will never capture the raw energy, the joy of seeing things for the first time. Daddy was too busy to make it so I'm filming it for him? Tough shit daddy, if you can't be there you miss out. That's the way stuff goes.
An older boy told a joke that afternoon. A joke! On stage! For an autistic child that can be huge. And he'd been told people would laugh. He was expecting the laugh, you could see it. His joke got nothing. Not because it wasn't funny. It was brilliant ("why did the sand cry?"... "because the sea weed"). But no-one laughed because they weren't really listening. They were just recording the event for some time in the future rather than enjoying it for what it was in the here and now.
It's not just school plays. It's everything. The next time your child does something in the moment, resist the urge to capture it on film. Savour it for what it is. A moment. And when it's over, your mind will have taken a snapshot of it forever, wrapped it in a bow and stored it deep within your heart on a shelf labelled 'Memories'. It's a secret place, open only to you, but you can visit it any time and share it with anyone.
Any moment you choose.
This blog is about bringing up The Boy. He's 12 years old and autistic. It's written by The Dad. It's my words, my view. Other people will think differently and have different opinions. Good.