Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Middle School Drama Club, BYO Drama

I always have a hard time taking Ryan to the playground, watching how preschoolers socialize so naturally, and then watching how much effort comparable interactions are for my almost-11-year-old.

Attending the mandatory parent meeting for the middle school drama club was ten times harder.

Ryan wants to be in the middle school production of Shrek The Musical. The drama teacher says the school can hire a para to help Ryan at rehearsals. In theory, then, Ryan is cleared to try out next week.

But holy cow, it's going to be challenging for him.

For one thing, rehearsals are after school. Most days when Ryan comes home from school he needs an hour of time alone just to recover from the demands of the day. But if he is cast in the school play, two days a week for the rest of the year (plus tech week) he will have to hold it together for an extra couple of hours. These couple of hours will coincide with his ADHD meds wearing off for the day.

Also, rehearsing a play requires skills that are either non-issues or manageable for the majority of middle school students but are difficult at best for Ryan. Reading along with the script. Writing blocking notes in the margins. Following those directions.

Looking around the packed school gym at the scores of typical middle school kids who attended the parent meeting, I felt like I was being assaulted by normalness, taunted by an alternate reality in which my child doesn't have to struggle to get other kids to understand him and gets to ride the long bus to school and can engage in conversations comprised of original material. An alternate universe in which I have no doubt that someday my child will be able to live independently. A world in which my biggest worry for him regarding drama club would be how he might handle the rejection of not getting the part he wanted.

I gained so much from the experience of performing in plays throughout my childhood, and I want Ryan to reap the same benefits. Actually, he has far more to gain from this experience than I ever did. Maybe he will learn to be quiet while other kids are talking. Maybe his reading skills will improve. Maybe he will finally find a good use for that fantastic visual memory of his.

Or maybe he'll just annoy the rest of the cast and start on that sad path to isolation that so often begins in middle school.