“Mom! I’M A SWAN!”

Every year on April 2, I share a YouTube video to my personal Facebook page. When my kids were little, they LOOOOVED Jack’s Big Music Show, but none loved it more than my oldest. For the sake of his privacy, we’ll call him George. On a particularly busy day several years ago, while running between ensuring the kids were in a safe place to play and the plummers had space to work, George was happily dancing to his favorite show for the fourth showing of the episde in a row. Because DVRs. When things were finally running smoothly, my good friend (and godsend), Annie, and I stopped to check out the dancing.

Within a few minutes, we three adults were in tears (plumbing supervisor included). The song he was singing was called “Duck Four” and was an obviously Jackson Five inspired retelling of the Ugly Duckling told from mainly from the perspective of Mama Duck. I’ll provide the lyrics below.

(Verse 1) This mama’s eggs lay in a duck nest the one big egg different from the rest/ The mama sat proud she was doing her best then she heard a cracking sound./ She hopped right up to look and see And out popped ducklings 1 2 3/ They were tiny and fuzzy as they could be But duck 4 had spots all around./ The 4th one screamed her friends all squawked But mama duck didnt listen to their talk. / She gathered up babies saying follow me Just jump in the water and you will see (Yeaaa) / (Ducklings) First me! Then me! And Me! (Duck 4) And me! (yeaa)

(Chorus 2x) Quack Quack waddle and Quack We let the water roll off our backs Quack Quack waddle and Quack we let the water roll

(Verse 2) Spring Turned to summer Duck 4 grew strong Her wings grew wide and her neck grew long/ Some ducks said she didnt belong Mama duck said keep swimming on!/ Duck 4’s feathers continued to grow, she couldnt quack quack but she could coo coo/ Then one duck said hey look a little close Duck 4 is a beautiful Swan!/ That’s right said mommy you’re different it’s true I’m lucky to have 3 ducks plus you see you dont have to feel so blue Now that you know what’s going on!/ (Ducklings) You’re a swan! You’re a swan! You’re a swan! (Duck 4) Im a swan!!!! (Yeaaaa)

(Chorus 2x) Quack Quack waddle and Quack We let the water roll off our backs Quack Quack waddle and Quack we let the water roll

George was flapping, jumping, and dancing around the living repeating over and over, “I’M A SWAN! MOM! I’M A SWAN!!!”

That day changed everything for me. While two other of my children are also autistic, they have Aspergers and so their disability, while equally valid and important, isn’t always as evident as George’s. George is developmentally atypical, so within moments of hearing his speech, you know something is different about him. I had been crumbling under the scrutiny and stares of other people. I spent days praying that no one asked me what was “wrong” with my son. How could I respond that nothing was? It was how I felt, but I also knew that my answer wouldn’t satisfy most onlookers. Most days, I avoided people outside of our network entirely.

But, he’s a swan. And, he knew it. We raised him and the others with the unshakable understanding that his place in our family was just as valid as theirs. He was different, but just as welcomed, just as treasured, and just as perfect. So, when George heard a song that encapsulated everything we had been saying throughout his existence, he recognized it immediately. “I’M A SWAN! MOM! I’M A SWAN!” That was the day he discovered himself. And, in so many ways, it was the day I discovered him, too.

So, my beautiful boy, on this day, April 2, 2019, I say again that I’m blessed beyond measure to have three ducks and you. You bring so much joy into the world and the light of your goodness is almost blinding. It is my joy, my honor, and my absolute privilege to be your mom. You’re a swan. And, I promise to never let you forget it.

Happy Swan Day


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