>> Sunday, April 30, 2006
Our local newspaper had a story about a teen actor with trisomy 21, Ian Terry, on the front page. Ian had two small roles in the Tuscaloosa Children's Theatre production of the Wizard of Oz.
We had planned on taking our 3 kids to see the play anyway -- we love TCT productions, but this made the performance extra-21-special for us. When Ian, and another chromosomally enhanced actor, Carly Lay, walked on stage as Munchkins and Ozians, I started to cry.
I wasn't crying out of sadness, but utter joy. See, I often think the biggest lie we perpetrate in our society is that we just want "happy, healthy children." Deep down I think each of us really wants a superstar -- Dorothy, the Tin Man, even the Witch. We want the child who will steal the show and make other parents jealous. "Oh, I wish Janie could sing like that -- Did you see how well the Tin Man danced? -- One day Elsie will be the marquis actor, I'm sure."
Well, having Maren in my life has brought untold blessings, and sitting in the Bama theatre, I realized one of the most important. What do I want for all my children? To be a star? Sure, maybe somewhere I'll always harbor that dream that seems part of the quintessential American experience. But more importantly, I want my children to fit seemlessly into society. I want them to be comfortable being part of the world -- and to be able to walk through this world with their heads held high, knowing that not everyone can be a star, but that there really is no OZ without the Lullabye League.
I want them to have friends who see that it doesn't take a star to be special, but that life is about heart, soul, and friendship. And sometimes, friends bound together in song are more powerful than soloists singing to their own tune.
To Carly and Ian, thank you for showing us that every star needs a chorus, and that every choir member is special to someone! I adore you both :-). And, when Maren, Jonah, and Archie are ready to perform, may they hold your hands and make the inclusion Over the Rainbow a reality in every town right here in North America.