When Jess first started going to dances, it was met with mixed emotions. She was excited to go, but often changed her mind as soon as we walked in the door. These events were pretty much the only time she wasn’t attached to my hip. When I left her, I felt like this was my version of a mother Robin kicking her baby bird out of the nest. Even though birds don’t really do this, the babies fall out because they are too big… Jess was too big to be clinging on to mom and out she was going to go.
The music was too loud for her liking. Even though there were a few familiar faces, I always found her sitting at a table by herself. This always pulled at my heart to see her alone.
Here we are ten years later and Jess is still attending dances. Again, there are familiar faces and I’ve found her sitting like a wallflower. However, she is a girl that likes to observe everything before committing herself. Besides, we weren’t dragging her to go, so it can’t be all bad.
The most recent dance was for Valentines. She was excited! Jess chose her dress and impatiently waited till it was time to get in the car. As soon as she arrived, she did not hesitate to leave me. At some point they’d have pizza for dinner. The tables had candy hearts at each place setting. Jess grabbed a couple of chocolates, stuffed them in her pocket, then looked at me. One of the volunteers said “oh she knows the drill, if she doesn’t take them now, she won’t get any”.
While Jess goes to the dance, husband and I have dinner dates, alone. This is rare. Over the years, friends have had to realize that we came in threes. Of course, for formal parties, Jess would have other plans, but for the most part, there are only a handful of people that still include us. The others don’t want the 5th wheel. Not that it changed anything, I did go off on one couple and said in so many words, “gee, it must be nice that your kids are off to college and on their own, that is not happening for us, so if you want to see us, we are a package deal”. We are still friends, but we don’t go out to dinner. I’m sure if this was their daughter, they’d see things differently. When you have a child with needs, this is just how it is. Most people don’t “get it” until something happens to them and then they want your understanding.
This time, when we picked Jess up, she did not want to leave. I was told that she had fun and didn’t sit much. They went on to say that she had asked one of the cutest boys to dance! These last couple of years, I’ve seen Jess step out of her comfort zone, but never expected this. Our little bird is finding her confidence! Asking a boy to dance is something I would never have done. I’m impressed!
As for dancing, Jess has her signature move. It’s nice to see my little bird trying to fly. I never thought I’d see my Angel grow her wings!
And as she left, the boys watched her go.