by Jennifer Dyer
Every year our church holds a fantastic prom to serve the local special needs community. When I first heard about it, I thought it was a great idea. Perhaps not appropriate for Rachel yet, but wonderful still.
Several people urged us to bring Rachel, even for a few minutes, but I resisted. Loud music, multi-colored light, and Chick-Fil-A nuggets all seemed like sensory overload waiting to happen.
So, I decided I would merely lend a hand decorating ahead of time and bring some cupcakes. I had no idea what I was in for!
First of all, I wish I had some pictures of the room! The theme this year was Out of This World, and they went out of their way to make it amazing. There were adorable decorations everywhere. Plus, the team asked a local group that dresses in Star Wars costumes to come lend a hand.
The day of the prom was super busy for our household. The girls went horseback riding and we had a school carnival. When I rushed into the house at 6 p.m. to grab my cupcakes and get them to the church, attending a prom was the last thing on my mind. Apparently Rachel had other ideas.
I know she didn’t realize she was going to a dance, but she knew wherever Mama was headed, she was too. So, she and the dog hopped into the car and off we went. When we arrived at the church I wondered what to do. I couldn’t leave Rachel in the car, so I handed her a tray of cupcakes and prayed she wouldn’t drop them. We headed inside.
Rachel’s face lit up when we entered the decorated gym. She handed the cupcakes to the nearest person and ran inside, turning in circles to view everything, including the twinkling lights. I stared at her and wondered where my autistic child had gone. This child wanted to be the life of the party!
Ladies in beautiful dresses moved around us, making me more aware of my sweaty t-shirt and dusty jeans. My hair had been through five hours of windstorms and my white shoes were brown with dust. I felt like the duckling among swans. Rachel, on the other hand, didn’t care one bit. She just wanted to party.
A sweet friend offered to watch Rachel while I ran the dog home, since it seemed we were in for a long night. As I left, Rachel took off in the direction of the DJ booth. When I returned, Rachel took me back over to her spot by the lights (and Bobba Fett) and proceeded to dance with abandon.
The great thing was no one told her to be quiet and no one worried that she was dancing wrong. Yes, one of the other attendees did look at Rachel with a strange look on her face, as though mystified by Rachel’s rapid dancing orbit around me, but she didn’t worry about Rachel for long. After an hour, Rachel stopped spinning and looked glassy-eyed. I was afraid we were about to ruin someone’s shoes, but she rallied. Whew!
What a joy it was the see the kids getting down with Darth Vader, a Storm Trooper and a guy in an astronaut suit. In addition to the beautiful decorations and many volunteers, including the entire youth group that came out to dance with the attendees, each prom guest was introduced into the room, being applauded by a host of Star Wars characters and their other friends. They were treated like royal visitors coming to a palace. Beautiful. The guests were delighted to see friends and, I’m told, as soon as it was over, they were already talking about next year.