“Mo-ooooomm.” He stretched it out so it sounded like two different words.
“It’s fine. I’m fixing your hair. You don’t want to be on stage with messed up hair do you?”
I got that shout because I spritzed some hair spray onto the top of an impossible cow lick.
“You’ll THANK ME for this,” I insisted.
“That’s for girls!” He nodded at the bottle of hair spray in my hands.
“Oh for Heaven’s sake. It doesn’t smell like roses or anything. It smells like spray. No one will know,” I promised. “Now go put on your nice sweater.”
Seriously, I should get paid for everytime he shouts an indignant “mom” at me. I’d be so rich. Then I could buy that iPad..
“You don’t want to look like a hooligan on stage. Go put it on,” I said firmly.
Tommy let out a gigantic sigh—ten-year-olds sigh a lot, I’ve noticed—turned on his heel and marched upstairs. Clunk, clunk, clunk.
We were about to leave for his Christmas Concert. He reluctantly told me about it-“I’m singing”-and when I said I’d love to come he mashed his lips together, behaving as though he didn’t want to go at all. He’s never been big on singing in front of people. When he was younger, he’d stand there moving his lips but nothing would really come out. That’s if he bothered to even attempt to mouth the words at all.
Tommy came down in his sweater, a frown on his face.
“You look great!” I said.
He grunted in response.
When we got to the school, he still seemed horrified that he had to sing.
“Tommy!” a classmate called out as he started to walk with us to the cafeteria where everything was being set up. “Tommy, we’re all meeting in the classrooms.”
Tommy didn’t say anything at first. He’s not the best with social situations to begin with.
“Tommy!” the classmate said again.
“Go, Tommy,” I urged.
Sheesh, you’d think that I asked him to dance around in his underpants or something.
We found seats and settled down.
“Will I get to sing too?” Natalie asked.
“No, it’s just the fifth graders,” I replied.
“Oh.” Natalie slumped down. She loves being on stage.
Unlike her brother, who shuffled in with the rest of the fifth graders looking downright miserable. He had on a red vest, supplied by the teacher, to look more Christmas-y. He seemed a bit awkward as he took his place, his eyes darting around everywhere. Social situations are never easy for him.
Doesn’t he look thrilled?
They sang a few songs, Tommy had one line to shout, and he said it well, quickly, as though he wanted to get it over with as soon as possible. Then the kids all came out into the audience and started doing a dance to Jingle Bells.
Again. Doesn’t Tommy look thrilled? He probably wasn’t pleased that I kept going, “Tommy!” And then Natalie was like, “Tommy! I can do the dance too!” and then she started doing her own version.
When it was over he handed his vest over and went, “Are we done?”
“Yes,” I agreed.
“Tommy!” one of his classmates called out. “Tommy!”
Tommy gave a tiny wave since the classmate was waving him over. But to him, he seriously thought they were WAVING. Again. Social situations. Not easy.
“Tommy!” the classmate said again. She was a pretty dark haired girl. He’s always gotten along better with girls. Boys want to talk about sports, which Tommy knows little about. Girls are more caring and want to protect.
“Go on over,” I urged.
Tommy let out an irritated sigh but shuffled over. Sometimes I feel like I have to beg him to converse with other kids. I watched as he stood there as the girl chattered on—that’s another thing, he’s a man of few words. He’ll listen and offer one or two word answers. Most girls like this. Some will be like, “Why don’t you talk?” and Tommy will shrug and go, “I don’t have much to say right now.”
“I’m ready,” Tommy said, returning five minutes later.
“Tommy, I loved your singing!” Natalie gushed and threw her arms around him. His own arms remained at his sides. He’s not always affectionate. To me he is, but only because I wouldn’t allow him not to be. But it’s only within our home. If I try to hug him in public, he’ll sometimes give me a horrified expression but that’s just being ten.
So that was the Christmas Concert. Maybe Tommy didn’t enjoy it. But I feel it’s important for him to be in those uncomfortable situations so he can learn how to deal with them in the future.
And oh, I think his hair looked great.