Thursday, December 15, 2011

"...because it was full of peanuts!" and other Big Thoughts for the day

Today was our first grade singing concert. If you've read my prior posts, you know that nearly everything we do this year is an uphill battle. I know what my kids are capable of, in all their glory for good or bad. But know this, I believe in them so strongly that I wasn't as worried as I could have been.

It's so funny, the way I worry about them. I find myself being rigid and hard, demanding perfection knowing that any small infraction will escalate into uncontrolled chaos that I won't be able to call them back from. I laid down the law like a witchy schoolmarm, and as I paced the front of the rug my children were staring at me from, I felt like I was delivering a fire and brimstone sermon about the evils of temptation. The temptation to talk. The temptation to jiggle. The temptation to pinch a neighbor or stick hands down the front of pants. While the kids were rehearsing on stage I kept narrow-eyed watch over every one of them as I strode back and forth. "Hands at your sides." "Eyes on the teacher." "Face forward, please." "Honey, put your shirt down."

During lunch, I began to worry if the kids rose to the expectations or if I had beaten them emotionally into submission. Then I remembered the smiles, the small hidden waves I got as I walked by, the thumbs up with raised eyebrows. "Am I doing good, Mrs. M?" They accepted the challenge and rose to meet it. Goodness knows it wasn't because they were afraid of me. There is no healthy fear of anything at school anymore, except maybe the peach cup at snack time.

I am so proud of my kiddos. I mean, I'm always proud of them, but today I am tears-in-the-eyes proud of them. Chest-squeezing, heart-pinching proud.

It should be noted that concerts are occasions for big events and memorable escapades. Three years ago today, five of my first graders found a "candy bar" in the boy's toilet. Unwrapped. Chocolate. How did they know it was a candy bar? Why Mrs. M, it was "the kind that is full of peanuts." And if that doesn't make you want to eat a Baby Ruth, well then, you obviously aren't cut out for first grade.

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