Ah, the magical sounds of elementary school in mid-December! Such sweet music! Truly.
Of course, I am not always able to appreciate the subtle loveliness of children’s voices in the week before the big vacation break. I sometimes fail to appreciate the joy that they are sharing on the first day of Hannukah and a week before Christmas.
Sometimes, in spite of my best efforts, I find my own voice raised to scary levels as I desperately try to corral them long enough to walk down the hall to music. There are moments, I must admit, when I am hard pressed to find the positives as 24 just-about-hysterical ten year olds attempt to work together to solve math problems in this sugar heightened time of year.
At times, it is all I can do to remain calm as I patiently repeat my mantra, “If you can hear my voice, clap once. If you can hear my voice, clap twice. If you can hear my voice, clap three times.” At any other time of year, there is silence by the time I get to three.
Today I had to resort to, “If you can hear my voice, clap seventeen times and then stare at anybody who is still talking.”
But you know what? The joyful noise manages to penetrate through to me in spite of my hoarseness and my minor frustrations.
The joyful noise of happy, excited, well loved, well nourished children seeps into my ears and my heart and my soul, and I end my December days thinking, “I am so incredibly lucky to be here.”
Here are some of the sounds of our school in the past two days.
One of my little girls was dancing around in the meeting area, twirling and flinging her arms out with joy. Her hair was flying, and her gorgeous turquoise eyes were gleaming. “Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, she sang in a husky voice. I was trying to gather the children for a math lesson at the time. “Honey”, I said to her, “I can see that you’re excited for Christmas.”
“No, I’m not!” she replied as she twirled, “I’m Jewish!”
Two little first graders were walking in from recess, holding hands. Both were flushed with the cold, and both were singing. “On the First Day of Christmas, my chula gave to me….” The tiny blonde waved at me with the hand that wasn’t holding her friend’s. Her black haired, dark eyed friend grinned at me, and the song resumed, “A partridge inapin free!”
And there is the sound of tapping, drumming, clanging, pinging that goes on all day as little restless bodies do their very best to contain their excitement and hold in the giddiness. Tapping on the desk, drumming on the book, clanging the pen on the back of a chair.
They can’t help it. Music is joy, and they are joyful.
Sometimes I want to smother that joy, just for a second. Just so I can get them to sit still while I hand out the math paper.
Then I think of the children in other places, where war is raging, or famine is rampant. I think of children who are sad, or scared, or lonely, or lost.
And I look out at the churning mass of December joy in front of me, and all I can do is sing.
“On the first day of Christmas, my chula gave to me…….”