Hi! Lynne here!
I have spent the better part of 13 years directing children’s church choirs, and directing both adults and kids in plays, and I have rejoiced and laughed and oohed and ahhed with the parents of the kids I have worked with, as their little performers have sung and danced and Shakespeare-d their little hearts out. It is thrilling for me to see our hard work blossom into a performance, and I know it is wonderful for families to see their children up there doing the thing.
Well, I have joined the ranks of those who sit in the audience and watch their kids do stuff. And it is hilarious.
Our son is 3, and just started going to a preschool based out of a local church a few days a week in September, and so far this school year, they have done 2 holiday performances for parents. The first one was a Halloween Costume/Assembly, where each class sang a song that they had been working on with the music teacher, parents went crazy from the cute, and then the kids marched around the room so everyone could get a better look at their outfits. My son’s class sang a song about pumpkins. That I had never heard my son sing before. I mean never. And I first, I wondered if my son had been listening in class at all because he wasn’t singing at all. All of the other kids were singing, or at least it seemed that way, because it was magnified how much my kid was not singing, and just when I really wondered where Dude had been, he hit a big giant cheesy grin on the part about the pumpkins smiling. So he DID know this song! He was just choosing what he chose to sing. Ahh. This is who my kid is, at least for that moment, I thought. He’s 3. They evolve like every 30 minutes.
So, yesterday was his school’s Christmas program, and his teachers sent home a really nice notice about the show, and that they wanted the kids to wear Christmas clothes (which to us meant red sweater), and that the little folks were going to be learning some songs and working on stage presence. Hooray!! So I asked our kid, maybe a month ago, what songs they would be singing.
“We only sing it at school. Not at home.”, was what he said.
So, I have been doing detective work over the last few weeks, trying to get any hint of what selection they were singing. He has wanted to listen to what he calls the “Gloria” song, which I realized was “Angels We Have Heard On High. “Wait”, I said. “Is that what you are singing at school?” “Yes”, he said. “It is.” I accepted that, although because I have met him before, I had a feeling that might not be the case. 3 year-olds sometimes tell you want you want to hear so they can go back to their toy excavator. Or to see you holding onto every bit of carol-info they can get.
Then Thursday, he announces that they are singing “Jingle Bells”. “But wait!”, I said. “I thought it was the Gloria song.” “But I love ‘Jingle Bells””, he said. Which is true. But he sings “Jingle Bells”, no joke, 12 months a year. Then 10 minutes later, he says that they are singing “Our God”, which is his favorite worship song, and I figured that wasn’t right, so I just stopped asking. Which is what I think he wanted. Well played, Sir.
So yesterday was the big day, and he got dressed in his red sweater, and he looked really quite deliciously cute.Now, I won’t post pictures of the actual program because I couldn’t get any without featuring other kids, and since I don’t have those parents’ permission, I won’t.
Pre-show tricycle ride.
But here is what went down.
My husband had to get his car serviced all day yesterday, so he took off work, and he and I dropped off Nat King Childress to school, then went and got coffee while we waited for the show to start. We drove back to school, and on the way in, we ran into a friend whose son is in the same class as Alex, and we found that he was equally mum on what sing they were doing. “He won’t tell us. He said it’s a surprise and he can only sing it a school.”, she told us. Well, then. We walked to the really beautiful main chapel of the church, got a printed program and found our seat. I started reading, and saw that they had listed what songs each class was singing! At last! I looked at the top, saw his class listed, scanned, and realized that neither of the songs they were doing were songs my kid said they were singing. Well played, Sir.
“You are really wired.”, my husband told me. I hadn’t realized it until I sat down and proceeded to squirm in my seat how excited I actually WAS.
And then the doors opened, and in filed in the kids. And I realized that with all of the parents watching them process, it felt like looking for your kid as they march in for high school graduation, or when you wait for the bride to walk down the aisle at a wedding. And you know what? I am not sorry about that. There are no degrees involved, but darn it, you are never to young to know that people are excited for you. And excited we were. There was waving and picture-snapping and grinning and finally, Alex’s class came in, and there he was, holding the hands of one of his teachers. Then I wondered if there was a reason WHY she was holding his hand, and if maybe he needed, umm, an extra hand to get him to where they were going, but then noticed other kids holding teachers’ hands and decided that SOMEONE needs to hold the teacher’s hand so whatever.
Then the show started. Alex’s class was first, and they lined up in front, with him standing on the end. Then the teacher started the song. And my kid started looking at the stained-glass window. And then he started looking at the altar. And he had not started singing the actual song.
But then he did! He actually knew words!! And he did some of the arm movements too! And then they handed out bells and little drums for the next song, which was called “Angel Band”, and I was very impressed that the kids put their things that make noise down until that part of the song. Very impressed with mine because we have met before. Then the instrument part starts, and as evidenced by the bad video that you will never see that I shot, it was beyond crazy. They were just going to town on those bells and drums, and I started laughing uncontrollably, and I wanted to scream “You bettah work!”, but I decided to not do that. Then their class portion was over and they sat down and so did I and this is what happened for the rest of the show…
…The other 3s class sang some song where they each had baby dolls in blankets, who were supposed to be Jesus, and my husband said “How soon until someone drops one?”, and sure enough, some little boy dropped his doll, and people started laughing, and he liked that so he did it 2 more times. When the teacher came to take his doll away, he started twirling. Did not skip a beat. It was glorious. Then the 4s classes sang, and apparently when you are 4 you can handle words and hand movements and actually moving, because they had like choreography. One of the classes did a song that is a Hebrew blessing, and the kids did joyful, jubilant moves, and this one little girl had so much joy, she was grooving like she was a townsperson in the youngest production ever of “Fiddler On the Roof”. Full Tevye-realness. And then they did a Nativity scene, where one of the angels had to back out because she got sick before school and another little girl filled in and did wonderfully because I could not figure out who she was and only knew that there was a replacement because the director told us. Good job, Backup Angel.
The whole show was less than 30 minutes, and then we all went downstairs and ate cookies. And then we went home. And the whole thing was over.
And we told Alex that we were proud of him, and it didn’t really matter that I didn’t know what they were singing. They had it handled. Handled. Because maybe I didn’t need to know everything. Because Jesus was celebrated, and that is the point of the church preschool Christmas show. And even if everything didn’t go as planned, it went exactly as planned, because they are in preschool. Because preschoolers do things that are unplanned. Having a base for them to veer from is key, and they were fine. It was fun. And I am thrilled to be on this side of the audience.