I love my kids. But when it comes to me attending their school programs, I’m an awful parent. I mean, some parents show up at school events like they’re running for public office or Parent-of-the-Year. For the Harvest Gathering at school a couple of months ago, several parents dressed up as pumpkins, horns-o’-plenty, and even turkeys. One thin man dressed up as an ear of corn, complete with yellow face make-up. And yesterday at the school’s Winter Gathering, several parents wore ugly holiday sweaters, the kind with a life-sized snowman or reindeer popping out of the chest cavity like a Yuletide version of Aliens.
I’m Lucky If I Show Up With Matching Shoes And Pants.
Admittedly, I don’t always enter these school events with the best attitude, and I have some good reasons. See if you don’t end up nodding your head in agreement with me at least a few times as you read my grievances:
1. Germs actually have a smell. They smell like a classroom full of 2nd graders.
2. Tone-deaf kids always sing the loudest and have the longest solo parts.
3. My butt has such great mass that it has demolished bar stools in biker bars, and yet the seat I’m asked to sit in was designed to HOLD THE WEIGHT OF A SECOND GRADER!
4. One look at the spelling list on the wall, and my self-esteem takes a beating. Or is it beeting? See? Worse yet, I don’t even know what some of those words mean!
5. The one child with his finger in his nose up to the second finger joint ALWAYS stands right in front of me. And I cannot not see it.
6. Theaters have surround-sound, but school events have surround-sneeze and surround-cough. It’s not just the kids you have to look out for. A lady behind me sneezed so hard that my cap literally lifted off my head.
7. When I see my youngest daughter up there, I realize I can’t save time in a bottle. She is young but growing up, while I am old and growing older still. I can’t help but wonder if my attitude around these school events stems from the reminder that she will move on, and soon I will be left without her to hold.
But Happiness Made An Appearance
In spite of my slight germaphobia (or profound if you ask my wife), and in spite of my dislike of crowds, I found three reasons for joy yesterday, and perhaps you, too, have found these truths while attending a school function for your own children:
1. My child was the cutest, best behaved one up there.
2. Despite my hangups, phobias, and quirks, my youngest daughter seems to have escaped all of my insanity. For example, while I had my back up against the wall hugging the nearest exit, Sierra plunged excitedly into the crowd, hugging friends and teachers alike as if she would not be reunited with them again the very next morning.
3. This generation will be kinder and more caring than my generation. Every song, activity, and story the children shared with us centered on kindness, compassion, and giving. Leading up to the event, the students held a food drive to help members of our own community. On the way home, Sierra told me that she wants to give away some of her toys to children in need.
“I mean good toys, ones I still play with,” she added.
What a change since my school days! I grew up “knowing” that each class contained 2 smart people, the valedictorian and salutatorian, and the rest were average or dummies. I grew up “knowing” that people who succeeded monetarily in life did so because they worked hard. Conversely, people who didn’t make much money or needed some extra help were lazy. I grew up “knowing” that the greatest achievement you could reach was to build a business and an empire like John D. Rockefeller of Standard Oil fame.
But not these kids. These kids grow up learning that character counts, that “getting ahead” means helping others move in that same direction. These kids are wonderfully colorblind and status blind. These kids give me hope for the next generation of neighbors, parents, friends, employees, and leaders.
Yeah, I’m glad I went, and I’ll go to the next program, too, maybe even with a better attitude.
Until next year, I’m withing you and yours a very MERRY CHRISTMAS, HAPPY HANUKKAH, BLESSED KWANZAA, and FESTIVE FESTIVUS!