I come from a very musical family. I grew up singing in church. My family would often arrive at church early in the afternoon on Sunday evenings to practice. My grandmother, uncle, and parents would work on gospel quartet tunes. For me, “Daddy Sang Bass, Mama Sang Tenor” was a reality. I myself began soloing in church at eight years old and participated in competitions every spring. I spent most of my adulthood studying music or performing, and I knew when I had children I wanted them to sing too. I fantasized about us all playing an instrument and forming a family band, not too unlike The Partridge Family–only better. I knew when I had a son, I wanted him to sound like Thomas Hampson, growing up to sing all these amazing baritone opera roles. He’ll have the most beautiful voice, and all the ladies will swoon, I thought.
When Max was born, he was instantly different although for years we couldn’t put a name to it. He learned a little bit more slowly than his sister, but that’s normal for boys right? He didn’t say anything, but he had an older sister to talk for him, so why should he? He hated most foods including his first birthday cake. He didn’t like to get dirty or the feeling of water. Finally, at three years old, we learned that Max has childhood apraxia of speech and sensory processing disorder. I was told he may never talk, and we should invest in sign language and assistive technology. I was sad that I’d never hear him say “mama,” “I love you,” or “dada.” I was devastated that I’d never hear him sing. He had a voice, and I wanted to hear it.
However, speech therapists and doctors were wrong. He slowly began talking–his first official word was “bus,” but his vocabulary continued to grow exponentially. By December of 2014, he was talking about Santa and snowmen. After his ChildFind ran out, we enrolled him in private speech therapy. I was so hopeful that my son would have a “normal” childhood (whatever that means).
Most of the initial goals we set for therapy were sound related. He needed to make certain consonant and vowel sounds so that he would become intelligible to others.As the therapy evaluation came to a close, the therapist looked at me and asked me personally what I really wanted him to be able to do. I paused, tears welling up in my eyes. “I want him to sing a song.” I felt stupid after I said it. Ridiculous even. I should just be grateful that he can say” mama.” Why would I ask for that? But it was what I still really longed to hear.
Max was discharged before he met that goal, and he’s been out of private speech therapy for almost two years.. He speaks clearly when compared to a year ago, although those who don’t spend a great deal of time with him can still find him unintelligible. But now…now he’s singing, and it’s the most beautiful voice in the world, and the only lady that matters to him swoons every time he opens his mouth.