A Farewell to Tragedy

Tripping the Light Fantastic, Is Us

On Wednesday afternoon, Charlie performed at his first concert, the 'Spring Sing' at his school. His class was the fifth to perform and, when I came into the school cafeteria, he and the other kids in his class, his teacher and aides were all sitting in the audience as another class (of younger students) performed 'De colores,' with colored pom-poms. A class of older kids did 'Sing, Sing A Song' and then some teenagers did 'Camelot,' complete with shields, helmets, and a crown (for one student). Charlie and his classmates had fedoras as their song was 'On the Sidewalks of New York.'

It was mostly Charlie and one other boy from his class who performed. Charlie went first and he stood straight and serious, eyes sliding to the left. With his white-banded fedora, he indeed looked like a long tall drink of water, ready to be in a production of Guys and Dolls. And here he is:

I think it took Charlie some time to warm up and take in the fact that he was standing in front of a cafeteria of students, teachers, administrators, therapists, and parents (and me kneeling in front of him now with a FlipVideo camera and now with my iPhone). I can tell from the way he was moving his mouth that he was singing the words, most clearly with the little pause, prompt and cue of 'New' before he said 'York.'

I hadn't known Charlie'd be singing that song. It has a particular resonance me, in part because---after I got into college at a large East Coast university---my parents planned that we'd visit 'back East' for the first time and my dad noted that two of the things he most wanted to do were: (1) 'walk the streets of New York'; (2) drive on the New Jersey Turnpike. The latter was probably a little more, um, gritty than it sounded like to us Bay Area-ers (this was before the days of EZPass). My dad has had the chance to see quite a bit of New York thanks to the long walks all over Manhattan and some of Brooklyn that Jim led us on, in the days when Charlie could better handle the sensory onslaught and rush of the city.

And that latter reason's why I had an extra lump in my throat (gawd, I am a sentimental mom-type!) on beholding and hearing Charlie singing at the concert. After the concert, his teacher asked me if I'd like for him just to leave with me, or to have him go back to his classroom. At first I thought I'd just have him come to the white car. Then his teacher noted he could work on some things and it occurred to me that this might help Charlie process the excitement and extra-ordinariness of the concert.

It would also help me to process how I was feeling.

Charlie may well have had some pre-performance jitters: he woke around 5.30 and he and I went on an early morning constitutional. Too, after coming home, eating his 'second lunch' and using the computer, Charlie settled in for a late afternoon nap.

We did another long walk after he was up. At one point, Charlie did a graceful sprint for almost a quarter of a mile. 

But we do trip that light fantastic!



I had a lump and he's not even my boy! Awesome, Cholly.


thats great kristina....i also had a lump in my throat.

Wonderful Charlie....Broadway here he comes.


That was wonderful - yay-ing with the crowd heard in the background!

Love the 'full circle" story.




*swallowing back tears*

Big accomplishment for your tall drink of water, indeed. Love this!


How adorable!

Also I want a fedora.


Wow! He said "York." I couldn't make out any other words but that was great.
I wonder what he thought of performing for an audience? Did he know that he was singing a song about the "good old days" in a city where he's spent a lot of time?

Kristina Chew

I think he might have known that, Jill---he knew when we went to 'New York' and had learned to say the word. And I think he was quite aware of performing for an audience---I thought the clapping might bother him but he was pretty thrilled, I think!

He tends to speak very softly (especially when asked) and the cafeteria was quite noisy, with about 50 or so kids there.


I love the fedora!! It really suits him.


I love how the school/audience was very supportive and cheerful. Looks like a fun time and Charlie was a STAR!


Charlie is a star! I too had a lump in my throat, what a great performance. Great work Charlie x


That was beautiful! It made me tear up


How wonderful! My daughter's school did something similar last month and I was leaking tears all the way through it.

Charlie was great :-)


That one made me teary. How proud you must be.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)