I had been bemoaning that after crapping out the lining of the colon for most of the day–thank you food poisoning for curing my desire to live–I then had to go and sit through my son’s orchestra concert. Truthfully, while I may have sounded unhappy by it, I wasn’t actually all that upset.

While sitting through 200 3rd graders bowing out Flight of the Mother Fucking Bumblebee may not sound like a rip-roaring good time to most, you have to remember that I live with two of the loudest people on the planet. I’m pretty sure I could sell Alex and Amelia to a museum or university to be studied because their voices are so fucking loud that they sheer glass.

I sometimes wonder why I don’t take my kids out until I actually put the two small ones in the car and then I don’t wonder any more. My ear drums are immediately pierced by their indignant wails and as I’m crying in agony and trying to forcefully eject myself from the car, I vow to stay home. FOREVER.

So sitting through an amateur orchestra concert was a cake walk in my book.

What was especially full of The Awesome was seeing my own son with his floppy mop of hair on the very same stage where I used to play.

I know I dropped a bomb on you the other day when I informed you that I played concert cello for many years because picturing me as a cellist is probably about as easy as picturing me with a penis (come to think of it, picturing me with a wang is probably easier). In fact, I bet you were up nights, crying into your pillow, wondering why OH WHY I hadn’t sent out a press release about it so you weren’t taken aback.

So, I’m sorry. FORGIVENESS. Because I know how much THE DEBIL is in the DETAILS.


Yeah. So whenever I tell people I used to play, they’re always like, “Oh, I’m SO SORRY,” like my arm had turned gangrenous and fell off and that’s why I was forced to give it up. It’s really sweet and I never know how to tell them that I’m really glad to be done. I played for 12 years and I toured Europe and I wasn’t great but I think I was good and when I was done, I stopped.

My son, who is autistic, loves music. When people couldn’t soothe him, music was right there. The very second that we could, he was signed up for music lessons and it comes as no surprise to me that he adores playing in the orchestra.

He’s naturally very good. He’ll be better than I ever was without much effort on his end. Music, like the planets, is clearly Ben’s thing.

So as I sat there in the darkened auditorium last night, finally on the other side of the stage, my heart grew as I watched my tiny son fidget and bob his head to the music knowing that he has found his home.

We all worry about our children finding their way, but those of us with special needs children worry doubly, I think, because we wonder if anyone else will see the good in our kids. If others can look past what is on the outside to get to what is on the inside. It’s not always easy.

Last night, though, I forgot about how upset I am that a number of his autistic tendencies are flaring up again. I forgot about my frazzled patience. I forgot about deadlines and dogs who have seizures and migraines and neurologists. I let it all slip away and for a moment, I focused on my bobble-headed kid and how cool it is to see him up on that stage, deeply concentrated on his music.

For once, his inner voices quelled. And mine too.

I couldn’t be more proud. Of him. Of us. Of where we’ve come from. Of where we’re going.

It’s a good life.

113 thoughts on “Music Hath Soothed The Savage Child

  1. I was all “Awww! How sweet! And how wonderful that Ben has a secure place in the world. How moving.” and then I started reading the comments, and was brought right back to Aunt Becky land, where nothing is sacred. 🙂 I love it here.

    But it’s still great that Ben has music.

    Live sex show…heckling your son *walks away chuckling*

  2. It’s all about finding the right combination!

    And why is this the first I’m hearing about a European sex show? Dita Von Teese style or back room thing?

  3. Dammit woman! I never read you during the day anymore and I finally try and you make me cry! Before noon! While I am at work! Dammit!

    I love you, loving your baby as he makes he way in the world.

  4. I’ve worked at schools with autistic kids and I swear autistic kids are 1000’x better than any ‘normal’ kid any day of the week. For some reason, they would latch on to me and I loved that. I loved it that I somehow connected to the most disconnected kids in the classroom better than all the other teachers and staff in the whole entire building.

    There was one girl who was about 7 and she still wasn’t potty trained and she was DEATHLY AFRAID of the bathroom. So every single day for the entire school year, I worked on that. . .I would get her to hold my hand and just walk to the bathroom door. The next step was she would walk into the bathroom with me and then run out. . .but she’d always walk in! The next step was she would wash her hands (This was a major thing for her!). Once someone flushed the toilet and she ran out frantic, but returned to check things out. We inspected the toilet and talked about the toilet (she didn’t talk though) and one day she flushed the toilet. This was toward the end of the year and she still had no desire to actually sit on the toilet. . .

    Anyway, the next year, I had moved 100 miles away and came to visit the school and kids on a day off. As soon as I walked into the room She said COME COME COME COME and she took my hand and took me to the bathroom, pulled down her pants and went potty, flushed the toilet and washed her hands. . .

    I was so proud and excited that I almost started crying. She’s been using the potty ever since.

    **I think she wanted to use the potty because I think she thought that’s why I left and didn’t come back**

    I still think about her and wonder how she’s doing. It’s been about 10 years.

  5. Wow you toured Europe w/ your cello? That is pretty impressive, you must have been very very good. Can I call you Aunt Helen from now on? (Mad Props if you get that reference)

    I am curious as to where your son is on the autistic spectrum. I know that is personal but I’m just admitting that I am curious about it.

    I am proud of him with his music! Strings is something I’ve always wanted to learn.

    1. Ben is pretty mildly autistic (mostly) but I don’t know. It’s not so clear cut as all that. He’s in a normal classroom but things aren’t so easy right now. We shall see.

      I wasn’t a bad cellist, but I certainly wasn’t great.

  6. Becky, thou has made me tear up. I played (and rarely play) violin/fiddle from about the age that Ben is and onward. It’s a wonderful outlet for so many things, and it’s fairly magical that he’s already found a passion.

    1. I’m so proud of him. I hope he continues to flourish and enjoy it. He’s so lucky to have such a passion. I started playing cello at that age and the sparks just never flew. Which? Fine by me.

  7. My son is an Aspie as well. I understand the link to music well. His is being crushed by his dad at the moment, but one day we’ll fix it. He is wonderful in all ways and I wouldn’t change a single thing about him. I am glad that Ben found music for himself.

  8. I am so glad that he has something that is so awesome to him. Something that he is amazing at. Something he loves.

    And that it soothes his soul as well as yours? Even better.

  9. That’s awesome. Well, it will be awesome until he decides he wants to play death metal on the triangle. Then, not so much.

    But in the meantime, enjoy the gift music brings.

  10. Well. I had a very graphic mental image of you with a wanger. Now I really DO know all there is to know about The Crying Game.

    P.S. Lovely, lovely, lovely tribute to Ben.

  11. This post kind of made me well up b/c my bother, who is seven years younger than me, is a paranoid schizophrenic who cannot work and will probably always live with family. He really finds release through music and plays the drums. I just really related to what you said about your son – that’s awesome that he enjoys music and has found a passion as such a young age.

    1. Well shit. I deleted the section where I streaked around the stage screaming FREEBIRD! I didn’t want to offend my more conservative readers. Let’s just say, it was quite exciting for the other parents.

  12. Awww, once again you made my eyes brim. Thank you for reminding me of some of the joys of parenting to come (since my oldest is not quite 4), and helping them find their way in the world. Mine says he wants to play the tuba, and I think that would freakin rock, being a one-time marching band geek. Both my kids apparently have a deep love for music. I love watching my 9-month-old dance every single time she hears a note of music, and how my son listens to his mp3 player for hours on end, and how they both like music to help them fall asleep (ok, not that the baby falls asleep, EVER, but at least it keeps her from crying like I’m torturing her at bedtime!). Ok, rambled enough. Um…. right, thanks Aunt Becky. 🙂

  13. This is my favorite post you’ve ever written. It’s just beautiful!

    While I am in no way trying to compare my kid to Ben, he was an asshole of a baby. Doctors like to call it colic. I like to call it “what the hell did I ever do to deserve this?”

    But music was always a tramendous help. There were many nights where we played Louis Armstrong, Sam Cook, and Frank Sinatra as I cried right along side my new baby.

    Music is so very healing. I’m so happy Ben has a natural talent for it:)

  14. Bobble-headed concentration is a beautiful image of your little violinist and while I can’t imagine you with the wang I can imagine the cello as a stripper pole.

  15. My “quirky” (euphemism for kid on the spectrum, right?) four year old son went as a date with his aunt to a THREE HOUR symphony performance on Sunday. He can’t get enough of music. I agree- it soothes and quells all of the static for him.

    Now the problem is that when I go to a three hour symphony, the static and the ADHD kick in.

    Who do you think is gonna win??

    1. Quirky, YES, QUIRKY. Perfect way to describe them. And three hours? Ben would be in heaven. We should get them together. I’m gonna guess you’re not local, though, because that would make life easy.

      And I would be bored stiff at a 3 hour symphony performance. You and I could play on our iPhones.

  16. NO FREAKIN’ WAY!!!!

    My daughter goes to the same elementary school as I did too!

    Although, those motherfuckers closed and sealed up the stage and now are using it for storage.

    And no, my kids are louder than yours. Maybe. My dad used to wear earplugs when he came over because the youngest screamed when she was HAPPY! And she is one happy kid!

  17. Being a band geek myself, I really loved this post. How wonderful that Ben has found something he is so passionate about, and that you appreciate his gift. I don’t know if it’s the horomones or the post, but I cried 🙂

  18. I’m glad that the on a day I decide to find time to blog, this is what you’ve posted. Not that I don’t thoroughly enjoy all your blog posts, but penises and vaginas be damned! This one made my heart swell.
    Glad you could find a way to be “in the moment” and truly enjoy the evening. Good for you and bobble head.

  19. Goddamnit, Aunt Becky – 2 posts in a row that made me well up. What a great week for your family (well, other than the pooping…)

  20. I love what music can do for kids with special needs. My 9 year old has ADHD and is musically inclined. It’s a great way for him to have something that he’s good at and he enjoys. Even though I sometimes hate to hear the violin practiced, I love to pile on the praise (ya know, to even out the bad stuff that sometimes comes out of my mouth.)

    I love this story.

      1. Well except for the fact that I was disturbed by my reply. Then I pictured a penis sticking out of my head. Which technically makes me a dickhead?

  21. Magic moments like that help us as moms to remember why we had children and why we love them so much. And how much they give us.

    And why we don’t actually run away screaming into the night!

  22. Congrats to the boy! Its amazing how easily kids can learn to play, my dad told me and I quote “Hell no your not playing in the orchestra. I dont want to be stuck listening to that shit!” He was always so warm and supportive…NOT

    1. Bwahahaha! I advocated for something with less…high screetchy notes. And I did nix the drum idea, which I’m pretty sure he’ll be telling his therapist about some day. Oh well. Can’t win ’em all.

  23. I’m so happy for both of you!! I had high hopes for T this year with band, but he is not overwhelmingly thrilled. I have even higher hopes for The Princess for next year, she loves (I mean LOVES) music. So I’m still hoping!! 🙂

  24. Your dog has migraines and neurologists?

    Seriously, music is great – Aspies are known for leaning towards music, math and languages. It’s all about systems, patterns; predictable and reliable things. Is he studying any languages in his school?

    1. He took French for a long time at his old school, but you’re right, he does love patterns.

      And my dog would be AWESOME if he had neurologists. But that would make me kinda…neurotic. I mean MORE than normal, right? If I took my dog to a neurologist?

  25. You’ve got a great sense of humor (so necessary as a mother of a child with special needs or a mother period!!) Thanks for your post on music!

  26. You ROCK as a mother! I love your honesty and how much you love your family. And I love when kids find their niche.

    My son was diagnosed with social anxiety and chronic depression as a child. Like your son, he found comfort in music and now plays four instruments – predominantly the bari sax. He got to tour Europe with a group a couple of summers ago.

    Life IS good.

  27. Ok, total tears until I read the first comment – then I was crying from laughing. I love you Aunt Becky and I love your readers!

  28. Music has saved more lives than any wonder drug. If I believed in god, I would say that music is proof of that god’s existence.
    This was a very fine post, Ms. Becky!

  29. So I was going to put a nice sweet little comment about how wonderful this story made me feel, and I noticed the tagline to the comment box – “Speak your mind.”

    Ok, I will.

    I’ve got cramps, Aunt Becky. My uterus is doing a remarkable impression of Braveheart right now, and I’m pretty sure it’s convinced I’m the enemy.

    Reading about you and your wonderful son made it just a bit better.


  30. I also have an Aspie (12) who is making the very difficult transition into high school at the moment. He goes to a main stream school but has a facilitator in class. He has been very cranky and has been ignoring his poor dad for the past 6 weeks. No amount of encouragement (not even blatant bribes) can make him forgive whatever got him in this funk in the first place. They are so difficult to fathom, these kiddos, I have no idea what else to try to repair the situation:(

  31. My oldest has gone to all of the same schools that I did. Elementary, Middle and now High School, it’s a little bit surreal going back to the various events isn’t it? Sitting in the high school auditorium for a play, or meeting or conferences, just a little weird. Also, since I’m a young mom, (for her anyway) there are still many teachers that were still there when I was a mere 18 years ago, also a little weird.

    Mack’s thing is her art, which didn’t come from any part of me, but she is so freaking amazing, and it’s so amazing the pride that fills me up, when I see something she’s done.

    Kudos to you for helping foster this passion in Ben, and I know you will do the same for whatever passion pops up in Alex and Mimi. It’s so awesome to see.

  32. I will be carrying the title “Flight of the Mother Fucking Bumblebee” in my head for the rest of the day. Thanks!
    Sweet story too. Music is a wonderful thing.

  33. Having a kid with a uniquity, (unique-quality), is really something. My 15 year old daughter has eye disease. She has uveitis, gloucoma, plars planitis and cataracts. She’s really really lucky to be sighted.

    She wants to be a hair stylist and nail decorating tech and she wants to attend technical school at BOCES during her Sophmore year of high school.

    I don’t know about you, but I’ve never had a visually challenged hair dresser.

    But, like your little guy in his element on the stage, she looks happy as a pig in shit with a straightener poised over her bff’s head as the same bff’s pink and white polka dot nails dry.

    She’s 15 today and I’ve had that Taylor Swift song running through my head since 7am.

    Best of Luck,

  34. Lovely post. I CAN imagine you playing the cello by the way. I have a friend who plays it in the European Chamber Orchestra, and she played a few Bach pieces at my wedding. I think it’s my favourite instrument. I wish I could play it, but know I will never make the time to learn, so I admire people who do.

  35. I know what you mean about worrying that other people won’t see all the good in our kids. It’s got to be even harder for parents of autistic kids, when you’re worrying that people will only see the autistic tendencies, not the person. That’s awesome that he loves music so much. I was a very so-so viola player in my junior high orchestra, and yet… sitting and playing that instrument, those were some of my happiest times. When it’s going well, playing music is positively magical. And being good enough that other people actually want to listen? Well, that’s a magical gift.

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