Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Here For The Party!
Valentine’s Day was quickly approaching and I was running out of time. I had been looking for a gift for Dear Son but to no avail. I had been racking my brain for ideas but could think of nothing. Dear Son, does not like candy and most toys are out of the question due to his disabilities. At fourteen, he was growing up fast, but somehow I was having a hard time acknowledging that he was indeed turning into a man. Until Gretchen showed up.
I got him off the little yellow school bus, as I do every day, as precisely 3:00 p.m. Every day, attached to the back of his wheelchair, is his notebook from school where his teacher will typically write a few lines as to the activities that transpired that day at school. I read them every day at 3:00, right after I get Dear Son off the school bus. Our routine usually begins with removing his leg braces, taking off his shoes, giving him some juice, and then playing a few games of Silly Six Pins Bowling. It’s a bowling game with bowling pins that talk. Once you set the game up, the pins "talk" and "tease" you to get you to knock them down. When you knock them down and get a strike, a victory song plays. Dear Son loves this game and likes to knock them down with his head. He loves the victory song the most because they yell out the word, “Strike” and then proceed with lots of whistles and cheers. I give him some kisses on the shoulder and a pat on the back and he gets all excited. Normally, since he only knocks a few pins down, I will cheat a bit and knock the remaining pins down without him seeing me, so that he gets a strike and the victory song plays. After a few games of that, he lies down for a nap. Lately though, he hasn’t wanted to bowl and the strike song has not been working it’s magic. So I had to come up with a Plan B. Today, when reading his note, was something that I had seen a few times now, and had peaked my curiousity.
Dear Son had not been eating lately and it was becoming a problem. He had been having issues managing his saliva and would choke often when he eats or drinks. In the few months prior, a swallowing study had indicated that he was aspirating small amounts of food or liquid at meal time. I immediately added a thickener per the therapist's instructions. So the note at school, was more of the same. Dear Son would refuse to eat or eat a small amount and then stop. He seemed upset and they would lie him down and hook up this music to his switch, which was located near his head. When he turned his face, the switch would be activated and the music would play. The teacher stated that once he heard the music, he quickly forgot about the problems at lunch, and was all smiles.
After a few notes from his teacher regarding this music, I was dying to find out what it was they were playing, that made him so happy. I called his teacher and she remarked to me that she didn’t know that he liked Country Music so much. “Yes, I said’, vaguely remembering how much he liked it. I asked her what it was that he liked so much. “Gretchen Wilson”, she replied. “The CD is called, “Here For The Party”.” I laughed when I heard it because it seemed to fit perfectly with Dear Son. As a huge extrovert, there is nothing he likes more than a good party, specifically a birthday party, filled with lots of people and lots of celebration. I rushed out to buy the CD.
I got to the music department and located the CD quickly. The CD was filled with such gems such as, “Here For The Party”, “Redneck Woman”, “When I Think About Cheatin’”, “Homewrecker” and “The Bed”. I quickly put the CD down. These did not seem to emulate family values or at least, my family values. And definitely, not appropriate for a teenager.
Over the next few weeks, I would pass by the music department again and think about Gretchen. I would pick up the CD, read the song titles and place it back in the slot. Dear Son was doing poorly by now and had not been smiling. It was breaking my heart and I was searching desperately for something to cheer him up. So, I stopped by the store and paid $12.88 for Gretchen.
Dear Son came home from school and we did our little routine. I set him on the bed for his nap and put on Gretchen to cheer him up. The CD came on and she began singing, “Here For The Party”. Dear Son’s face lights up, he squeals as loud as can be, and he's smiling ear to ear. I haven’t seen him this animated in years. He continues to scream louder. I cringe as I hear the lyrics. Gretchen belts out Redneck Woman and is soon singing the chorus:
“Well, I’m red-neck woman, I ain’t no high class broad,
I’m just a product of my raisin’ I say hey ya’ll and hee haw,
And I keep my Christmas lights on,
On my front porch all year long,
And I know all the words to every Tanya Tucker song,
So here’s to all my sisters out there keeping it coun-try,
Let me get a big hell yeah from the redneck girls like me.”
As for Gretchen, will we keep her?
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