This past week, the hubs and I attended our first holiday lunch occasion with Jrue. I, for one, had moderate expectations; I didn’t expect the food to be postcard-worthy, nor did I look forward to any singularly fascinating conversation, though, I knew it would be, in the least, entertaining to sit and speak with four-year-olds. Upon arrival at Jrue’s classroom, we were instructed to wash our hands in preparation for the meal. The children had been working on readying the tables for the celebration, as they had set up personalized place mats that displayed their pictures and what they were thankful for. We found our son’s laminated happy face above the statement, “I am thankful for mommy and daddy.”
I gulped, fighting back the waterworks.
Just before lunch began, the teachers called the kids to the carpet and requested they cap their heads with turkey crowns. It took quite a bit of maneuvering to arrange the busy bodies into something of a double row sequence by height, but, as they clumped together, all of the parents and caretakers waited earnestly, unsure of what to presume, but pulling out our phones to record anyway.
The singing began under the direction of one of the teachers.
Something about a turkey in a tree? With a big, big belly? Pointing his fingers at me? Then, “gobble gobble gobble,” “gobble gobble gobble…” The kids twisted their bottoms to the beat.
We had no idea what they were saying. But, we didn’t care.
It was comedy on 10.
I struggled to hold my recording phone steady while laughing.
The second song was even funnier because the personalities emerged from the woodworking. It was a much lengthier tune regarding different foods that we see at the Thanksgiving table. The first two verses went normally…the kids followed all prompted lyrics and accompanying movement. By the third verse, however, Jrue was singing intermittently and standing and watching his peers. One kid ran from the carpet over to his dad. Another little boy sang over the others, loudly and without pitch, and pulled his crown over his eyes. The girl beside him was rocking her body side to side to her own beat. It was all so awesome because they were so unfiltered, so chaotic, in the midst of attempted control.
I cannot express how much I’ve looked forward to this moment.
My parents went to all of our school programs and, believe me, there were many. One of my earliest elementary school memories is of my leading my first-grade peers to choreography with wooden blocks to Kris Kross’s “Jump.” In addition to class shows, my sisters and I were involved in several choruses, dance competitions, and summer acting workshops. When I birthed Jrue, then Jai, I visualized, amongst other things, the hundreds of shows I’d get to enjoy/loathe as they grew up.
I also fondly recall a scene from one of my favorite childhood movies, “Hook,” depicting exactly what I always believed kids looked like during their music programs.
Kids and free will…gotta love it.
Days later, as the hubs and I did our weekly grocery shopping at our go-to “big box” store, I was reminded of Jrue’s class performance as we traversed the store packed with holiday food shoppers. Certain shoppers strangely represented each of the children who stood out to me during the class’s impromptu show.
Like Jrue breaking rank and freezing his engagement with the task at hand, one woman stood lost in studying directly in front of all the spices, blocking several areas with her body and cart, failing to identify the many people struggling to satisfy their own needs around her obstructions.
Two adolescents zoomed across the foot traffic on the main boulevard of the grocery section, nearly causing several collisions, with no guardianship in sight.
One woman spoke loudly across the aisle to another woman pushing a cart nearby, asking about a recipe from “mom;” she repeated the question boldly, repeatedly, as she realized that she was being ignored by the other woman, who had begun a rather animated conversation on her phone.
The shoppers danced sharp angles around one another with baskets and carts clacking mistakenly, hitting endcaps and standing displays of merchandise, uttering “Excuse me’s” and “So sorry’s.” It was like a show onstage. Speeding around angrily, anxiously, cautiously. Racing to the available open checkout lines to hurry up and wait. Shopping for food at the top of a break week for the kids right before the biggest eating holiday in our country.
It was a lot of pandemonium that I will definitely attempt to avoid this week.
That woman was just standing in the aisle, studying pepper she has probably purchased before. Ma’am.
The kids were darling during their show, though.