Since January, Cainan has been singing a song he learned from Martin Luther King Jr Day. He sang it almost every day from the end of January through mid-February. He sang it for anyone who said they wanted to hear it. He sang it when people didn't want to year it. He was singing it one afternoon in March when I said, "Cainan, why don't you sing that song for the talent show?". "What?! I could sing that for the talent show?!", he started flapping his hands and his voice went up a couple of octaves. "Yes! Yes! I want to sing that for the talent show!"
Over the month leading up to tryouts, both boys worked on their acts. I suggested to Asher that he do jokes with his best friend, Dylan. He loved the idea and they set about picking out jokes from some kid joke sites on the internet and practicing them together. It was hilarious to watch the process.
Cainan continued to practice his MLK song. In my search to find the music for it, I came across a PowerPoint presentation with the lyrics that is meant to accompany the song. We looked at it together and he decided he wanted to use it for his performance. In the meantime, as he was asking me about the civil rights movement that lead to Mr. King’s fame and admiration, we discussed the current civil rights movement for people with disabilities.
We talked about how people with disabilities can legally be paid far less than minimum wage, even if they’re working hard for many hours; we talked about how a student with disabilities who graduates with a diploma that does not meet “standard” diploma criteria cannot get government aid to attend college; we talked about how often people with disabilities are in classrooms with other people with disabilities, segregated from their peers without disabilities. Cainan really saw the correlation between Mr. King’s civil rights movement and the current one for people with disabilities. He particularly recalled how he had been in a segregated class and how much he wanted to be in a “regular” class at the same school as his brother. He was even more excited to sing the song. We decided to edit the PowerPoint to include images of people from all different races and of varying abilities. We felt this helped show how much Cainan loved the song and made it personal to his own experiences.
Cainan began to talk to others about the current civil rights issues for people with disabilities. He has always been a great self-advocate and once he realized that there were some things that just were not fair, he picked up on it and started sharing these issues. I was a little worried that his simple song he wanted to sing might be a little too political for the talent show, but we carried on in preparation for tryouts.
The day before tryouts I was lamenting the fact that I was going to have to write up 30 queue cards each for Asher and Dylan to have for their jokes (yes, they had picked out 30 jokes!). “If only there were a way for them to share…like if they were one person…” And in my quest to be lazy, I came up with the idea of dressing them in Joe’s clothes so they would be one comedian with two heads. I told them about the idea and crammed them into the outfit. It was hysterical…everyone would be laughing even if they never got a joke out. What made it even funnier is that Asher’s friend Dylan has a very thick British accent. The two talking heads couldn’t be much more different!
They all did great for tryouts. Asher and Dyan made it into the show but had to pare down their jokes to 12. We added to their costumes with funny glasses and had them practice their delivery.
Cainan also made it into the show and we were told the PowerPoint was beautiful (Yea! Not too political!). The music teacher did call me the day after tryouts with concerns about how soft Cainan’s voice is. She asked if some of the other students who did not make it into the show, could sing with him. I told her I would ask Cainan—he has always wanted to do a group act but it hadn’t work out with finding other kids to participate. I asked him if it was ok and he was super excited to include them, but wanted to make sure he still got to sing some of the song as a solo. We practiced at lunch time a few times and everyone was ready for the big day.
I got to see the dress rehearsal the day before. The MC for the show was an enthusiastic man named Coach Kid. He did a short intro for each act, then interviewed the kids after their act. When he asked Cainan who was mastermind for his act, he said, “My mom.” Which is not entirely true—he wanted to sing for talent show and had been singing that song for months! When he asked Asher and Dylan if they wrote their own material, they said, “yes”. I mentioned to Cainan that he was the one that really wanted to sing the song. And I told Asher and Dylan that they got their jokes from joke books—they didn’t write them themselves.
The day of the talent show, there were two performances. One in the morning for the kids in the school, then one in the afternoon for the parents. At the morning performance, Cainan, once again gave me credit for being the “mastermind” of his act. Asher and Dylan told Coach Kid that I wrote all their jokes…I was getting way too much credit for stuff that I just didn’t do!
Another round of chit chat with the kiddos, letting them know how awesome they did and that mommy did not write their jokes, nor come up with all the ideas for Cainan’s song. Then the afternoon parent performance.
They killed it again! This time when asked where they got the jokes, Asher said, “…[long pause]…The Book…” It sounded so ominous, or hallowed…they weren’t jokes from the Bible. Then Coach Kid went off script and asked the boys who came up with their great costume. Asher took credit for this. The one thing I actually did and could take credit for…nope.
Cainan and his group sang their song. Once again he gave me credit for coming up with the whole thing. Once again, Coach Kid went off script and said, “You know, Mr. King did have a great dream, and it’s coming true since all of us get to be here together and watch you sing.” At which point, Cainan grabs the microphone and announces, “For people with disabilities, there’s a civil rights issue now!” Did I mention Coach Kid is a black man? He just patted Cainan on the back and asked for a round of applause. I think I was three shades of red but also super proud of my boys. I wish one of us had captured that particular outburst on camera but we missed it.
So here are the videos. Both videos are of the afternoon performances for the parents. Enjoy!