Y’all, we’ve had two end of the school year programs in the past eight days.
I know, I know, that’s not a big number- particularly since we have three children- but still, it’s wrought havoc on mama’s emotional stability.
The emotions may be running slightly higher because this year is the first time we sent all three boys to school: the big kid is nearly finished with kindergarten, while the twins just wrapped up their first year of preschool. We attended Spring Sing at preschool without any fidgeting toddlers in our laps. Nobody spoke through the entire program. For the first time, we were able to focus on what was going on onstage. I wasn’t rushing two little people to the bathroom as quickly as possible so I didn’t miss any of the program. Instead, we watched the boys parade out with their class, smiled at them and waved (through my tears.) The music teacher whispered in my direction, “Don’t cry YET!” Still, throughout the entirety of the program, this mama cried.
They sang Disney songs, songs they’ve rehearsed at home, at mealtime, and one day even played for me with guitar and ukulele accompaniment. They each had their own favorite tune, they each expressed it in totally different ways. They didn’t stand next to each other to sing. I saw a whole range of growth and development in each of them in just the way they stood on that stage and performed their hearts out. The smaller of the two, younger by two minutes and blonde to both of his brothers’ brown hair, is also more shy than his brothers. He stood with his hands in his pockets throughout the entire performance, enjoying the music and the opportunity to sing (one of his favorite things to do at home), but being cautious of the fact that he was being watched by a church full of strangers. He met our eyes a few times, and tried to hide a smile as he shook his head- almost as if to say, “guys, I’m doing it, ok? Just let me alone!”
His twin- more outgoing and flirtatious since birth, more wild and free-spirited in every sense of the word, used his opportunity in the spotlight to just be himself. He shimmied and shook and emphasized the hand gestures they’d all been taught. He was in front of a group of people, all eyes on him, and he was milking it for all it was worth. (Their music teacher told me after the program was over that the smaller blonde one is a sports car, while the larger, darker haired one is a monster truck. Her analogy couldn’t be more accurate). Watching the two of them- my two babies who had turned four years old just one day before- turned me into a big pile of mush and pride and more love than I ever knew it was possible to feel. My lap was empty, but by God was my heart full.
Despite my empty lap though, friends, the universe righted itself for today’s “Off to First Grade” program at the elementary school, where one twin settled down on a lap and…fell asleep. The other twin, however- the energetic and adventurous one- climbed on his chair, moved his chair, stood up, whispered that he couldn’t see his brother, asked how much longer we had to stay, and asked question after question throughout the entire performance.
Shortly after we arrived, the kindergarten class paraded into the cafeteria where we were seated. We had received a note asking that all children be dressed in all black, but we didn’t know what the costumes would be. When our boy filed into the room dressed as a bumble bee: gold tape across the chest of the black polo shirt he wore, wings on his back, and an antennae headband- I lost it. I was a sopping, teary mess.
He took his place on the risers, scanned the cafeteria for our wildly flailing arms, yet couldn’t seem to locate us (his dad is 6’2″ and was standing up and waving, so I’m not sure how he could miss us. His mom is 5’3″ and didn’t bother to stand, because unless I was on a chair, he’d never find me). Finally, he made eye contact and beamed his radiant kindergarten smile…the one where he has two loose front teeth and one is so loose that it’s crooked and leaning against the other and leaving an awkward space between itself and the one on its other side. The smile that makes me wonder every single time how I got lucky enough to be this kid’s mom.
He came running to us in all his bumble bee glory for pre-show hugs; And this mama continued to cry. His teacher came around a few minutes later, passing out CD’s of the music from the program. Each disk was personalized with a photograph of our student with the teacher. You guessed it- more tears. The teacher glanced at me and said, “don’t cry YET!”
They opened the show with a slideshow, which obviously pushed me further into emotional ruin, and then they proceeded to make us laugh, make us cry, and make us proud as we watched them perform the sign language conversation they’ve learned with their teacher throughout the year, heard them tell joke after joke, and gleaned tidbit after tidbit of insect information- all things they’ve developed in the past eight months. I’m a little blown away, and a lot proud.
I can’t close this without mentioning how incredibly fortunate we are to have the teachers we do, in both preschool and the elementary school. Our boys are all understood and cared for and looked after, and they’ve all put tireless efforts into making school a fun and engaging place to hang out. And so to our teachers, and to all the teachers, from the bottom of our hearts, thank you. You’ve all made this year such a good one, and we can’t express enough how grateful we are for all you’ve done.
And so, if you need me this weekend, friends, I’ll be over here with my box of tissues.