Friday, November 30, 2007

MUSIC IN HIS EARS

As I've said before Jordan attends a middle school specializing in Music Education. He has guitar lessons two hours a week, Music Appreciation one hour a week and Music class during school hours two hours a week. School started on September 13th and the school gave their first concert yesterday in honor of the holiday today..."TUSCANY DAY." The choir teacher sent home a notice saying that all students should dress in a white button-down shirt, black pants and a black ribbon to be tied around the shirt collar, as well as a pair of shoes that were nicer than tennis shoes. We had discussed the time and place of the big event the day before, yet before Jordan left to take the bus to school, he said, "Mamma, you remember what's happening this morning, don't you?" I looked at my son with that look that says, "Do you think that I could forget that you have to sing in a Church this morning...you are wearing a black ribbon tied around your collar...son!" He understood my "What kind of question is that look?" laughed and went on his way.

I mean, have I ever missed a school event or function? When he was in pre-school I arrived twenty minutes early to every event just to grab the front-row seat (totally rude of me because I'm like five nine)and position the videocamera (that is now broken:(). I sweated through end of the year program after program where as soon as the music would start, Jordan would sprint to my lap and slam his mouth shut refusing to sing. His teachers would try in every way possible to convince him to rejoin the group and sing, then Jordan would throw a temper tantrum, kick and scream, and I would hug him and sit there watching the rest of his class sing adorable little Italian songs that I didn't understand anyway. The third year of pre-school (five years old)after sitting in my lap for the first four songs, the teacher popped a casette in the recorder and a song started jammin'. Jordan jumped up, got in line with the rest of his class and began groovin' to a dance the teachers had taught the class. I was so shocked that I didn't even get it on tape...after three years of bringing the videocamera for nothing, the thought never occurred to me to tape this dramatic event. What Jordan could hear with his hearing aids was enough to give him rhythm, but not enough to assist him in learning the lyrics and songs spontaneously.
His participation slightly improved year by year because I taught him that if he mouthed the word "watermelon" over and over again, it would look like he was singing. How terrible is that? But learning the Italian songs was just too trying on me, I didn't understand the words or the melodies, so for me it was just too much...I focused on other aspects of learning like keeping up with the three hours of homework a day he had beginning in first grade. You just can't even imagine how much work the Italian School System gives our kids, when Jordan will have finished Middle school here, he could sleep through high school in the States and still get straight As.
Anyway, to make a long story short, when Jordan was implanted all of this stress with regard to music gradually changed. He could hear, he could hear to the point that he could catch the repetitive refrains to the songs and actually began singing along with his class. It's so funny, cause he doesn't just sing, he grooves and dances while he sings - crazy. We started him with piano lessons one year after he received his cochlear implant,nothing intensive, just so that he could have music in his life.

Fast forward to yesterday morning. I arrived outside the DUOMO of Grosseto and began looking for Jordan. His Math teacher (they are called Professors in Middle School and if you say "teacher" they get offended)told me he had been "running around" and she had not recently seen him. I digested and continued looking for him. When I found him zigzagging across the top step of the Church, I stopped him, disciplined him and told him to get in line to enter the Church.

Time out, FYI: My husband is Catholic and I am Jewish...religion is another post entirely that one day I will get to, but now is not the moment. Just keep that in mind while I describe the rest of this, because for some, this Choir moment would have had more of a religious significance than it did for me.

Jordan walked inside the Church with his classmates and headed to the stairs behind the altar, chaos ensued as about five schools and parents, grandparents, etc. raced to find a good seat. This time they were faster than me and I ended up in the sixth row back on the right, luckily I had a pretty good view of Jordan that was only slightly obstructed by a woman standing, who was short enough to be able to stand without me reaming her out yet tall enough to annoy me.

The Choir teacher, dressed in a very festive cherry red blazer made the necessary introductions, waved her arms and the choir along with Jordan ALL started singing...THE ITALIAN NATIONAL ANTHEM! There was my little Jewish American son in his adorable black ribbon bow tie singing The Italian National Anthem in a Church! One of the most beautiful moments of my life...I started bawling, of course, whipped out the tissues and began the dabbing process. Jordan kept looking over at me and I kept sending him the thumbs up sign. The Choir sang two songs, then mini orchestras played about twelve more, I knew he was dying sitting on the altar, but he managed to behave. After the orchestras finished their finale, the Choir stood up and and sang two more songs accompanied by the orchestra. Just before the final two songs, I turned around and saw my mother-in-law standing behind me, neither one of us had known where the other one was...divine providence:) So, we watched the final two songs together and just before the final song she leaned over and said, "Your mom would have been happy if she were here to see Jordan singing..." Well, that just about did me in, so I started bawling again and went through another pack of tissues. I have to say that I was pretty thankful when the concert ended, because I mean how much can a person take?? Very emotional experience. It just gets better...
I went to thank the Choir teacher and as I look over to the right I see Jordan hugging my mil and my mil is sobbing, tears streaming, and Jordan is just letting himself be hugged.
My mil took Jordan's diagnosis really hard and was truly devastated by the fact that she couldn't sing to him or teach him all of the songs she sang as a child that were such an important part of her childhood...my mom was a singer when she was young. I'm tonedeaf, but I jammed to Olivia Newton John and the Osmonds growing up...yes, I too sent Shawn Cassidy fanmail. Soooo, this was a colossal event for my mil who continues to be amazed by her grandson.
On the way to the car, Jordan looked at me and said, "Mamma, why were you and Nonna crying?" (fishing for compliments) I looked right back at him and said, "Because you are deaf. When they told us you were deaf, we never in a million years would have remotely imagined that you would be singing in a Choir in a Church at age eleven and seeing you sing makes us realize that you WILL BE ABLE TO DO WHATEVER YOU WANT IN THE FUTURE." Jordan looked at me, smiled and said..."Mom, can we go to the Newsstand and buy a pack of Yu-ghi-o cards?"

3 comments:

Val said...

Do Not erase this, I have to read it several more times. I might print it for me to continue to enjoy! I'm in tears because I just did the same thing w/Gage. I was asked why I cry sometimes...I told him the same thing,"because a few years ago I would have never imagined that I would be eavesdropping on my six year old deaf son teaching my four year old deaf daughter the words to 'Live and Let Die' from the Shrek the Third Soundtrack !!!!!"

jodi said...

Val,
After what you went through with Gage and then Brook, I'm sure you do a lot of crying just looking at what beautiful children they are growing up to be...and I know you will have many more crying moments to come.

Rhonda said...

....and I'm crying thinking about you crying.