Tuesday, April 20, 2010

My Little Soloist

Yesterday was Lucas’ annual music program at school. For months now, he has been singing the chorus of a song about the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. I took the day off work to go to his music program, which began at 9:30am. I had asked Lucas what he was singing…was he dancing…did he have a solo? He told me he was singing the Martin Luther King, Jr. song, dancing to Candyland, and no…he most certainly did not have a solo. I couldn’t quite figure out the theme of a music program that included Martin Luther King, Jr. and Candyland…but whatever.

So yesterday morning, Ruanita, Sophie, Nicholas, and I squeezed into claustrophobic rows of folding chairs in the Hale Elementary School music room to await the beginning of Lucas’ fabulous music program, performed by his 1st grade class and one of the 2nd grade classes. We got there early, but still ended up in about the sixth row…far enough back that the twins could not see a thing. Of course, both Sophie and Nicholas had to potty immediately….Sophie loudly announced at least a half dozen times that she was hungry…and Nicholas repeatedly kicked the woman sitting in the chair in front of him who turned and nicely informed us that she had a bad back. Finally, after an eternity of wrangling rambunctious preschoolers, the program began. The children filed into the music room and took their places on the risers situated on the stage. Lucas scanned the room for us and grinned ear to ear, waving emphatically, when he found us. The children began to sing. I was nervous to see that Lucas was standing at the end of the riser, closest to the curtain. As I expected, Lucas began disappearing behind the curtain halfway through the show. I could tell he was playing with the curtain and I prepared myself for the worst. I was certain that he would inadvertently untie the curtain and bring is flying shut on the entire left side of the stage. I tried making eye contact with him to flash him my meanest “stop it!” motherly look. Unfortunately, six rows back, I couldn’t catch his eye. Eventually, he did quit fidgeting and the curtain tragedy I had foreseen did not happen. Halfway through the show, Lucas and four of his classmates came down from the stage and took their places on the floor in front of the crowd of onlookers. It was time for Candyland and Lucas’ dance debut. I must say…it wasn’t so much a “dance” as five kids looking at each others’ feet desperately trying to remember the steps they had undoubtedly not rehearsed often enough. Lucas missed more of the steps than he hit, but he seemed to be enjoying himself. When the song Candyland ended, the five kids ran to a bucket sitting on the floor to the right of the stage and grabbed a couple of pieces of candy to toss into the crowd. Lucas chucked his right at his best friend Colin’s little sister…pegged her right in the head. He giggled a huge giggle that filled the entire room. Nice aim, kiddo. Sophie and Nicholas fought for the remainder of the program over the one piece Sophie caught.

Finally, the end of the program approached and the kids started to sing the Martin Luther King, Jr. song. Lucas and three other children lined up behind a microphone. Wait a second….Lucas has a solo? He told me he was NOT singing a solo. Perhaps he didn’t know what a solo was when I asked him? Uh-oh. The two kids in front of him sang the first two verses of the song…perfectly in harmony…exactly on key….painstakingly enunciating every word. The entire class sang the chorus that I had heard Lucas singing for weeks. When it was time for the third verse, Lucas approached the microphone. I could see a bit of panic on his face. He began to sing and it was immediately obvious that he did not know the words at all. His music teacher pointed to the words on the page in front of Lucas, attempting to help him. However, being a 1st grader, his reading skills are not advanced enough to read and sing at the same time, keeping in pace with the music. He stumbled through the verse, hitting one word here and there. It was excruciating to watch. I felt so incredibly bad for him. When he finished, the crowd applauded him. I could have walked around and hugged every single one of them! That was the last song of the program. The children filed off stage and back to their classrooms, without getting to stop and talk to their parents. I wanted to hug and kiss Lucas and tell him he did perfectly fine. However, at the same time, I wanted to smack him upside his head! If he had only told me he had a solo, I could have worked on it with him. We could have memorized the words. We could have practiced at home. Last week, he did bring home a CD of the Martin Luther King, Jr. song from school. There was no note attached. No explanation. When I asked Lucas about it, he told me he was supposed to listen to it. We dutifully listened to it, but I had no idea Lucas was supposed to be learning the third verse for a solo! A note from the teacher would have been helpful. I realize that it is only a 1st grade music program, but it was a pretty big deal to Lucas. And therefore, it was a pretty big deal to me.

There is quote that I read somewhere once that said something along the line of parenthood being equivalent to having your heart out there walking around in the world every day. How true! It broke my heart to see Lucas struggle to sing that third verse. I realize that this is only the first of many, many more struggles to come....struggles that will be a lot more difficult than a few forgotten words. Wow…I don’t know if my heart is going to be able to handle it!


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