by Donna Donaldson
My son, Aidan, doesn’t fit the usual description of a Texas teenaged boy: He isn’t into sports, doesn’t hang out with a group of other boys, and spends a lot of his spare time creating miniature houses. Fortunately for us, the school district where we live offers a program in orchestra, beginning in the fifth grade. Aidan wasn’t interested in orchestra when he first heard about it, but he reconsidered and asked if I would allow him to participate.
He had a choice among violin, viola, cello, or bass violin, and chose to learn to play the viola. At the end of fifth grade, Aidan decided he wanted to continue in orchestra, and I readily agreed. Aidan graduated from elementary to middle school, and orchestra became one of his seven daily classes.
While he was in middle school, the school days were a torture for him, especially the twice-daily bus rides, as he was tormented by other students with both physical and verbal abuse. Some days he would come home really down, and eventually we sought counseling to help him get past this difficult time. At school, he didn’t really have a peer group that he could call his friends, but there were some boys he could sit with during lunch.
One day at lunch, in spring of 2002, Aidan noticed a girl from his orchestra class, sitting alone at a table, and crying. He moved over to where she sat and asked her what was troubling her. The girl, whose name is Carly, is blind. She said she was crying because she was alone; no one would sit with her at lunch.
Aidan sat with her that lunchtime, and after that he was her noonday companion, sharing his cookies with her and just talking, just being there. After the last orchestra concert that year, I was fortunate enough to meet Carly and her father, just to say hello and see the young lady my son had been keeping company every lunchtime.
The next year, growing population in the area required some redistricting of students, so Aidan and Carly no longer attended the same school. Aidan’s problems with bullies lessened somewhat, and he no longer needed to see a counselor to help him through the day.
We don’t see or hear from Carly, so I hope she has other friends now who sit with her at lunch. It was a privilege for me to see my son, despite his own difficulties at school, empathize with another person’s problems and show compassion. It filled me with pride, and I know he will be a good man.