A few of my schools offer day care for school aged children on their days off. Since last week was Spring Break for many nearby towns, I had a chance to reconnect with some of my former students. The most amazing experience was at one center, where I walked into the pre-K room to see a somewhat familiar face. It took me a few moments to remember – “Carson! Oh, my gosh, you’re so big! How old are you?” He was eight – practically an adult!
Carson had been one of my most memorable students. Creative, silly (sometimes too silly, even for pre-K), energetic, and a big, BIG personality. Always improvising new songs and dances, and I mean good ones – funny and rhythmic.
Other faces form the past were visiting that day too, mostly bored-looking girls who sat against the wall. Carson sat next to me and helped me sing the opening “Hello” song. The children were excited to see a “big kid” helping to lead the class.
When it was time for instruments, Carson insisted on passing them out. He was like a cheerful, very competent aide – just what I need!
When I took out my ukulele to sing some songs, though, the fun really started. Carson informed me that he knew how to play. “Really?” I asked, not knowing whether to be impressed or dubious. “Yeah, my music teacher taught me,” he assured me. I decided to go with impressed and handed him the uke. I realized immediately I should have gone with dubious. Carson knew how to strum, but not really play chords. But I figured to take the ukulele back at this point would only embarrass him and also disappoint the class, so I let him strum tonelessly while we sang the usual songs.
What Carson lacked in skill he more than made up for in enthusiasm and loudness. The whole class was singing along, laughing, utterly delighted. Carson made up silly voices and joked around, enjoying the attention as much as the class enjoyed his performance. Even the too-cool bored older girls were smiling.
Lesson for the day… something like joy is more important than perfection? Fun is more important than playing or singing in tune? And… appreciate days like this.