He was in the front row, struggling to maintain composure. He looked to the front, quickly diverting his eyes back at his own shoes. He switched balance from one foot to the other. The little girl with the lovely bangs standing at his side looked at him, encouraging him, letting him know that everything was going to be just fine. When the music started playing “Cabeza, hombros, rodillas y pies,” the Spanish rendition of “Heads, shoulders, knees and toes,” the little boy started to sob. He had to be taken one row back by his teacher, where he regained composure and finished the performance. They were the kindergarteners of HoLa, my daughter’s school in Hoboken, NJ, at their first annual Winter Extravaganza.
Next came the first-graders, my daughter’s group. There she was, standing in the front row. I started to feel nervous, because I know she is more on the shy side. I was preparing myself to reassure her that it was OK, in case she had to follow the same path of the little kindergarten boy. As soon as the music started, she danced like no other kid, sang and maintained a big gorgeous –and toothless smile throughout the entire performance. She enjoyed every minute of it, pretty much as she finds joy on every other task.
If you have not been around five to seven year olds lately, let me remind you: they are the most energetic, creative and curious creatures of the universe. Walking to the store with my daughter is pure pleasure. For no reason in particular she’ll change her stride from a boring walk to a fun jump-walk or gleeful skip. The lamp post suddenly serves as a pole to do a quick circle around, and any line on the floor needs to be jumped, not just walked over. Of course there is always that difficult question, like why are poles cylindrical? Or, why is it green and not blue that means ‘go’?
The Winter Extravaganza started with a moment of silence for the tragic events in Newtown, CT, as it had happened that same morning. There was not a single parent or teacher that was not deeply touched by this event. The tragedy was so close, and at a grade school for K-4, just like HoLa. The gunman was carrying an ID with an address in Hoboken. Many of us have friends or relatives in Connecticut. They were little kids, just like ours.
I don’t know if I –or anyone will ever understand why this happened. There is nothing I can do to repair the loss of those 26 families. But now, more than ever, I cherish God’s gift of having my kids, and being able to learn from them, to protect them, to teach them. What I can do is to commit to be more like them—to find joy in the simple things; to have fun doing whatever I’m doing; to learn, to be curious’ to question; to be brave’ to encourage others; to sing; to dance.
That is one thing we all can do for the kids of Sandy Hook Elementary; be like them.
TweeksBI= “This week’s Big Inspiration.” Concepts, ideas, trends and things that I find thought-provoking.