Wow! Some days you’re just thankful you got up and had the stuff on your calendar that was there.
Catherine didn’t have an aid on Tuesday, so I got to play that part at school. I actually love the excuse to spend a whole day with her, just the two of us. As soon as I walked into the classroom, her teacher said, “I’m so glad you’re here today. MEAC is coming!” Her eyes twinkled (literally), and I wondered what the heck was a MEAC.
MEAC stands for Magical Experiences Arts Company. They don’t even have a website. If you google them, you just see a bunch of grants they’ve won. Good thing they’ve won them, too. They are literally bringing magic to severely disabled kids. According to their brochure, they provide “interactive performances which: empower, inspire and educate children, adolescents and adults with severe multiple disabilities in a safe, nurturing environment.” They bring creative theatre programming to Level V schools and facilities. These are the places where the kids learn through the most challenges.
They hung silk fabric as a backdrop to the room. “Most of these kids can’t even see that,” I thought. Yes, even I get cynical. They wore sparkly costumes and paint on their faces. And just like a typical theatre troupe, they set the stage for a story that took us around the world.
As we visited various countries, pixie dust fell from the sky. Wind blew fiercely. Puppets started to dance. I wondered if the kids had any idea what was happening. But as I watched closely, I understood.
Just like in normal theatre, these elements were merely props. The actors told the real story by communicating with their audience. And unlike any I’ve ever seen before, these people actually communicated with these kids. They SAW them. They looked at each child with such intensity it was nearly uncomfortable at first. But then, my eyes welled up.
This complete stranger actually sees my daughter. She’s not afraid of the disability. She’s actually looking right at it. She’s not afraid of the little girl. She’s actually trying to find her. I’m welling up again just writing about it.
She’s watching her. She’s listening to her. She’s loving her. She’s touching her. She’s communicating with her. And Catherine began communicating back.
At one point in the performance, the fairie became a puppet that would spring to life only if the child touched her.
I helped Catherine do that and the puppet awakened and wanted to dance. I moved Catherine’s arms to pull the invisible puppet strings and the two began a dance. At first, it was limited to Catherine’s upper body. I swayed with her and kept moving her arms. But then, I felt Catherine’s energy shift.
She wanted to stand.
I helped her stand, and she danced upright with the puppet. Somehow she felt this energy of having been completely and utterly seen by another. She rose with it. And she danced.
Another little boy moved in a similar way. As the puppet moved to other children, the teacher and I realized Catherine and the other little boy were still standing – still dancing. We moved them together, put Catherine’s arm on his shoulder, held out their other hands to each other, and stabilized them for a dance.
As far as I was concerned, we were at the prom. And the theme that year was magical fairies.
Thank you MEAC.