Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Reflections On An Elementary School Winter Program

  It's "Winter Program" time for the first grader. Back when I was in school, it was the "Christmas Program," but that was back when being "inclusive" meant including songs from every religious tradition, not excluding all mention of any religious tradition. But, whatever. Six grades of kids singing songs about snow. I can only think of three songs about snow, (four if you count "Baby, It's Cold Outside" but that's not appropriate for grade-schoolers) which probably means we're in for a whole bunch of made-up winter-themed songs. Which the boy probably won't sing anyway, since the teacher has been telling me for the past two weeks he hasn't been participating well in rehearsals. I think my combination of threats/bribes will at least get him to do the motions.

  Three hours to go: the grandparents aren't going to be able to make it, icy roads make the 2-hour drive too dangerous. Bummer. The boy will be disappointed, plus the extra distraction for the three-year-old would have been welcome. But there will still be two adults there to handle her, which should be fine, even if the program start time is a half hour after her usual nap start time.

 We leave the house a half-hour early. Should be plenty of time to get to a school five blocks away. Except high parental turn out and no parking lot means we end up parking about two and a half blocks away. We would have been better off walking if it wasn't 10 degrees outside. But we still make it in the door with ten minutes to spare.

 The gym is standing room only. That puts a new perspective on keeping the girl corralled. We head for the way far back corner where there's a bit more room for her to wiggle, dump our coats in a pile against the wall and look at the program. Oh look. It's not just every class K-6 performing, there's also a head-start class, the fifth and sixth grade band, and the fourth through sixth grade strings orchestra. 

 Hey, there's one chair free in the back row. I sneak in and sit with the girl on my lap. That keeps her happy for about a minute and a half. Then she wants her own chair. Once the kicking and struggling starts, I give up the seat to a grandma and go back to standing against the wall.

 I'm holding the girl on my hip when the orchestra starts. They're playing "Old MacDonald." The girl starts singing along, which is pretty audible since the orchestra isn't that loud. Now they're playing Mozart, why is she still singing? Oh, she's singing "Let It Go" from "Frozen." Sorry fellow late-comers, I'm already as far back in the corner as I can get, and to take her out I'd have to cross the entire length of the gym to the doors, squeezing in front of people all the way. Time to hand her off to Daddy.

 We've made it through the instrumentals, the sixth grade, the fifth grade, here comes the fourth grade...are they carrying recorders? Yep. Straight out of a South Park episode, they're singing "Sleigh Ride" while playing recorders. Maybe I can take the girl to the potty. No? Are you sure you don't have to go? Damn.

 A short break before the third graders come out, we're halfway through. Hey look, two people at the end of the back row are leaving. They must have a fourth grader. Either that or the recorders pushed them over the edge. Daddy and the little girl take the seats. I tried sitting with her once already, I'm happy to continue standing behind them. Now that she's sitting, she can play with the Christmas stickers and blank paper I brought for a quiet activity. Maybe that will keep her happy through the end. 

 The second grade is about to start. I look over and see the girl is now putting stickers on the grandma next to her instead of the paper. (Bet that seat we gave up to her at the beginning isn't looking so great now.) Hopefully she's an understanding grandma. 

 First grade is up next, I switch off with Daddy so he can stand behind and prepare to take pictures. Luckily, the girl's out of stickers. "Guess what, your brother is up next!" "I hafta go potty." (Mental facepalm)

 The first-graders are singing, all except the boy. He is doing some of the hand motions, though, that's progress. And on the second song he waves his colored scarf pretty enthusiastically with the rest. Now they're filing out - wow, that went fast.

 The Kindergartners are done and now all the grades are coming out to sing the big finale, "Winter Wonderland." The plan was apparently to have all the kids encircle the audience, but that didn't take into account the standing-room-only crowd. We smoosh back against the wall so the kids can line up in front of us and behind the lucky people in the chairs. The sixth-graders directly in front of me aren't singing: one is on her phone, two are giggling and whispering about one of the boys down the row, who keeps looking over at them. 

 All the kids have filed out back to their classrooms and the parents are starting to leave. A fellow PTA member is next to me. We decide that if the PTA had been selling drinks, we'd have made a ton of money. (Can the PTA apply for a liquor license?)

 We go to the boy's classroom to sign him out. "Were you there? Did you see me? I didn't see you. Did you see my scarf? It was purple. We did a song about ice is nice, and there's ice outside. Do I get to leave now? Is the Winter Program over? I can't wait until we do it again next year."

 Me too, kiddo. It was worth every minute.