A few weekends ago I attended the national conference for Williams Syndrome and they had a talent show for the individuals with WS one night.
There were all kinds of acts, stand up comedy, a family of 3 young children that wrote and performed a song about the loving nature of the WS kid of the family, some “just stand up and sing” acts.
All in all, there were some impressive numbers – these kids were real crowd pleasers – but one in particular stood out to me. A young boy, maybe 5 or 6, stood up and sang “I want to be where the people are” from a certain Dis_ney movie about a little red-haired girl with a tail who lives under the sea. I’m not sure if the rest of the audience had the same gut-wrenching reaction as me – the parent of the youngest diagnosed child at the conference- but I really felt the moment, and still do, weeks later.
If you’re not familiar with the song, it starts out “I want to be where the people are, I want to see, want to see them dancing…” and goes on to, at one point say “Up where they walk, up where they run, up where they stay all day in the sun, wandering free, wish I could be, part of their world.”
Since learning of Obi’s diagnosis and researching WS, one thing that has stood out for me it that individuals with WS understand that they have a syndrome that sets them apart – that they aren’t quite like everyone else. This has made me wonder if Obi will feel ‘different’ as in “we’re all individuals with differences who make up this world” or ‘different’ as in “I’m an outsider and no matter what happens I’ll always be on the outside looking in”.
Hearing this young boy sing (quite well for his age, I might add) about how much he wants to be ‘part of their world’ very nearly broke my heart in half.
I’m willing to bet he doesn’t grasp the meaning of the song at that level. He probably likes the movie, likes the tune. I really hope that’s all it is. I really, really hope, at 6, he’s not already feeling like an outsider. Because if I project that thinking onto my Obi and fast forward 6 short years, that may just be too much for my heart to bear.