*This is the 2nd part of a 2-part story of Skylar’s 1st school dance experience. If you haven’t read part one, click here to read that 1st.*
Friday morning I awoke with an excitement that rivaled that of Christmas morning as a child. Skylar came up the stairs and sat down at the breakfast table as usual. I wasn’t sure that I sensed anything different about her attitude that morning. She tends to take at least 15-20 minutes to really wake up and say anything. “So tonight’s the big night isn’t it?” I asked her. She answered simply “Yep” and continued to eat her breakfast. As she finished she said “Mom, we can be at the school by 6:45 to line up. We can NOT be late!” I reassured her we would most definitely not be late. For those of you who don’t personally know Skylar, she HATES to be late! She is an absolute clock-watcher & has been forever. Like many children on the autism spectrum she is very routined. Many of her past teachers would comment to me that Skylar always helped them stay on track in class because she knew when it was time to move on to the next subject or special.
After I dropped her off at school I made a quick mental list of what all would need to be done before the dance…hyperbaric chamber, shower, nails painted, hair done, dinner, and of course plenty of time for pictures. The school day actually flew by as I worked feverishly all day to get my errands done so that I could completely focus on getting her ready for her big night. My heart smiled as my mom called and said “so tonight’s the big night, huh?” Not long after that my sister texted to say that she would have so been there to chaperone too had she not had to work. The way that my sister is with picture taking and videoing, I know it killed her not to be there. She made me promise that I would either text or send live tweets of the evening. I loved that both of them recognized what a special night this was for her.
When I picked Skylar up from school she was all smiles as I heard her tell John “I’ll see you tonight at 6:45 & oh yeah, I bought a new dress”. John smiled, waved good-bye and reminded her again not to forget her ticket/permission slip. Getting ready for the dance was special and everything went smoothly. I made sure that we had plenty of time to spend on the porch taking pictures. Some of the pictures are really funny as you can tell she is just ready to get to the dance. I tried not to torture her too much with pictures but I needed to make sure I had enough. We left home with Chris and Hailey waving at us from the garage. I wish that they could have gone as well!
When we pulled up to the school there were already a lot of kids there. Skylar could not get out of the car fast enough. She started walking up the hill as fast as she could. I tried to hang back a bit and give her a little space and independence. While we walked, my mind raced as I wondered how the night would go. I was so beyond nervous and my stomach was doing somersaults. I worried how the other students would treat her. This is something I worry about a lot! We just moved here in April and so many of these kids don’t know her. As we got closer to the cafeteria, I saw a huge line of kids and thought “we will never find John in this line!” Just as this thought crossed my mind this I heard a really loud “Hey Sky!” I turned to see John jumping up and down waving his arms with a huge smile on his face. He was in a shirt and tie and looked absolutely dashing! I sat down on a bench off to the side and just took it all in. I watched as she waved her hand across her dress and said something to John. I imagine it was something along the lines of “How do you like my dress? Don’t you think I’m beautiful?’, because that is just like something that Skylar would say. She has absolutely no filter! So if she thinks it, she says it.
As the line started to move I made a decision to let her get into the cafeteria and then I would sneak in at the end of the line and sit along the wall towards the back of the cafeteria. Next to me on the bench sat another lady. She asked if I was there to chaperone. I said that I was and she said “Can I walk in with you? This is my first time doing this and I’m nervous and not sure what to do.” I told her that we could hang out together. She shared with me that she was actually as a chaperone for her grandson. Her son is an Army medic and is currently deployed to Afghanistan for 1 year. Her grandson moved to Prescott to live with them for the year as his mother is not a part of his life. We talked while the kids all filed into the cafeteria and I was struck by how loving this woman was and how she wanted to do anything she could to help her grandson adjust. She told me that he had asked her to come to the dance and told her that she should bring at least $100 in case he needed anything. I just loved that!
After all the kids were inside, we walked in and snagged 2 chairs along the side wall towards the back. The music was already in full swing and I scanned the room to see if I could spot where she was. It took me a minute but then I noticed a whole circle of kids bouncing around at the front. I quickly recognized that they were all in her class. I was so relieved to see a large group of her classmates there. She only has about 15 kids in her class so I was really surprised, but overjoyed to see such a large number of them there. As the next song came on, so did the strobe light. I was immediately paralyzed with fear! You see, Skylar also has Epilepsy and I did not have her emergency medicine with me. We had just seen the neurologist the day before and she had changed Skylar’s emergency meds. I had dropped off her prescription the day before but they didn’t have the meds in stock and said it wouldn’t be in until the next day (Friday). I quickly called Chris and explained the situation. Being the amazing husband and dad he is, he rushed to the pharmacy before it closed to pick up her meds and bring them to me at the school. It had been so long since I had been to a dance that I didn’t even think about the strobe light. As soon as I had the meds in hand I immediately felt better.
The very next song that came on was the Cha-Cha slide! As soon as it started playing the room erupted in screaming and I saw Skylar smile the biggest smile. She LOVES that song. I loved just watching her do all the moves. She was surrounded by a huge group of people and as I watched them dance and laugh all I could think was “she just fits right in with everyone”. I felt so grateful. Grateful that not only was she there, but that I was there to witness it all. Not long after the Cha-Cha slide came the very first slow dance. Oh my! I held my breath as I watched to see how they would react. I had discussed in great length with her before the dance about appropriate and inappropriate behaviors. The principal had also made an announcement about having appropriate space between each other. I watched as they held hands and started dancing. I laughed as I noticed there was enough room in between them for the principal to actually dance too! About half way through the song, John let go of one of Skylar’s hand and spun her. It was about one of the cutest things I have ever seen! I sat back and knew that I had nothing to worry about. John was treating Skylar like a princess!
Multiple times throughout the evening she came over and sat down next to me. She’d sit for a few minutes and then bounce away to dance some more. About an hour into the dance I noticed that John was wandering around. I asked him where Skylar was and he said that she was in line to get her picture taken. I asked why he wasn’t and he said “It’s $3 a person and I only had $3 left so I let her have it”. I was determined to scrape together 3 more dollars so that they could have their picture taken together. As the lady next to me saw me frantically searching the bottom of my purse for change, she handed John $3 and told him to go get in the picture with Skylar. I was so thankful to her as I only had $2 in my wallet and would have kicked myself had they not had an actual school dance photo of them together.
The dance was scheduled to go until 9:00 but about 8:40 she limped over and said that she wasn’t sure her feet could not take any more dancing. Skylar has low muscle tone and she wears special orthotics in her shoes all the time. Unfortunately the cute black sandals didn’t fit the orthotics. I asked her if she wanted to have one more dance before we left and she said “Ok!”. As soon as that song was over, she announced she was ready to go. She said “I’m really tired. My feet are really tired. And I’m sure it is past my bedtime.” I told her to go thank John for “taking” her to the dance which she did. It was sweet to watch them wave and say goodbye.
She was pretty quiet on the way to the van. I asked her if she had enjoyed the dance and she said “It was GREAT!” As we drove home, Skylar said “Mom, thanks for going to the dance with me! I would have been worried if you weren’t there.” I was amazed at how she had actually expressed that to me. I was so thankful to have heard those words of gratitude!
After I put Skylar to bed, I shared a bunch of details with Chris and shed tears of joy for such a special time with Skylar. I will be thankful for this night forever! Again I thought “this wasn’t just a dance…it was a beautiful and new experience”! One that I will most definitely NEVER forget!’
Much Love to All of You!!