Friday, March 6, 2015

On Being Seven

This week my oldest son graced the stage and nailed his line in the second-grade musical.

They sang loud and clear, they hit their marks like professionals, and they grooved like nobody was watching. The odd thing about it, though, was that several people watching. The wooden auditorium seats were filled with parents, grandparents, and siblings who were being shushed with graham crackers {okay, maybe that was just one in particular}. Camera flashes were constant, and there was enthusiastic applause after each number. Between songs, the kids lined up at the appropriate microphones and delivered their words loud and clear. Chefs, football players, fire fighters, and other members of hat-wearing professions beamed at the audience with pride. There was no mumbling, no looking down, and no visible fear. Their incredible music teacher had prepared them well, but it was the pride that made the show.

And the dancing, oh the dancing! These kids were absolutely feeling it. Even Nathan, who is admittedly shy sometimes, let loose and had a blast. I couldn't help but smile as I scanned the crowd and saw exactly how much fun each kid was having. I hope they always have that much fun. I hope they always feel that free.

I'm not naive enough to think that kids this age don't have insecurities. I wrote a whole post about how I'm pretty sure Nathan has inherited most of mine, but watching that little boy dance and sing without a care in the world, I was jealous.

After the performance, Nathan talked to his grandma on the phone so she could tell him how much she loved the video we sent. One of her first questions was whether he was scared to talk in front of so many people.

His answer? "No. Why?"

At seven you don't care who's watching if you're having fun. At seven you aren't trying to be cooler than anyone else. At seven, there's no holding back from being yourself. I pray that every one of those kids hangs on tight. This group is a long way from crying through preschool programs, and I want them to be even further from the dividing lines that creep in and separate. High school kids who answer every question, the ones invited to every party, and the ones terrified of finding a seat at lunch are all balled up in this class. They were all dancing together.

The second-graders sang about party hats and Uncle Sam, but the underlying theme fit perfectly. It doesn't matter what hat you wear, it's all about what's underneath. Whatever hats these kids put on in the years to come, I hope they are never afraid to let their true selves shine through. I hope they always remember being seven.

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Anita Rowe Stafford said...

This is precious! I can't attend a children's program without shedding at least a couple of tears. They just bring out a lot of emotion in their performances.

Yavonda -- Lucky Mama said...

Aren't kids just the best? My daughter is 5 and at their Christmas program, she just rocked it. Some of the other kids weren't that into the choreography, but my child just boogied through all three songs. It was so precious -- and you're right, I hope she never lets go of that ability to just be herself.