Jingle Bells: The Third-Grade Christmas Sing and Shuffle

There they stood, in all their Christmas Cheer. The girls, that is. Many of the girls wore fancy dresses. Even a couple of boys were dressed in suits and ties. Most of the boys were dressed like my son, in sweatshirts and jeans. Ben sported a Harley Davidson t-shirt, and his ever present baseball hat.

They started out strong with Jingle Bells and plowed through the whole first verse before coming to a point when not a soul knew the words and singing came to a screeching halt. Wide eyes, the sound of the piano accompaniment, and a little ripple of stifled laughter from the audience. Along came the chorus, and the kids piped back up again, full of energy and spunk.

Then, oh no, another verse. Feet shuffle. The tallest girl in the class, a fiery red-head standing right in the center, started fiddling with a bracelet made of string, and actually working on the braid, it looked like, all intent and focused, her hand up in front of her face. The tallest boy in the class, far over to the right, pulled off his Santa Hat and started twirling it.

The boy who seemed to be the most comfortable up there on stage, was in the front row, with a pleasant, incredibly nonchalant expression. He didn't sing. He didn't even try. He didn't exhibit a bad attitude. He was present. He was there with his friends. But he didn't mouth the words or fumble. He just stood there with a half-smile and his hands shoved into his pockets: the picture of contentment.

In between songs, children came down to a microphone two at a time and read little stories. We couldn't hear a word, because everything was so loud in between songs. The children on stage all started talking at once. It was like they burst into popcorn kernels of energy, and started bouncing around. You could see the whole group moving in every direction. The audience was so full of grandmas and grandpas, moms and dads, siblings, and the most amazing crowd of babies I've ever seen. They were everywhere. They were adorable with their little round faces. And we were all loud.

The toddler camp was exuberant in cheering for big brother or sister whether it was time to clap or not. There seemed to be an ongoing cheering section of chubby hands and eager, adoring faces.

From the minute the Sing began to the grand, confusing conclusion, about fifteen minutes later, which was in the printed program as a sing-a-long but only a few of us sang, it was a noisy, joyous occasion. I could not stop smiling.

I hugged each of the teachers more tightly than usual, because of the last week that we've had, and their courage and smiles and support of our kids, their dedication and what they would do, for us and for our kids, each of them, without question.

Leaving the auditorium, we spotted a little girl in a filmy, pale blue party dress, strappy-sandals and a big, winter, bubble-stuffed jacket playing tether-ball in the freezing cold.

photo from here

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