I ran through the school hallways today, Hannah grasping to one hand and her best friend grasping to the other in an effort to make it to “Group Sing” before it ended.
Hannah has spoken often of Group Sing. Not in much detail, but enough for me to know it was something she looks forward to and enjoys each week at school. I knew it was one of the only times during the week that the little preschoolers join with the Upper School big kids for an activity. We had arrived late to school today, as had her best friend, so we risked missing Group Sing which is why we bolted around other students and got strange glares from the teachers who normally preach “No running” to the children. I suppose my height and my “Don’t Mess with Me” look of desperation gave me a free pass this morning.
I had been told this was the Last Group Sing. The last for the year. And for Hannah, who will be entering public school Kindergarten this fall, the last Ever.
We ran into the room stuffed with 50 or so students ranging from age 3-12 all sitting on the floor singing unfamiliar songs (to me) while one student stood with a pointer at the front of the room tapping a large screen with the lyrics written out for those who could read. I didn’t realize Overhead Projectors were still used. It was refreshing to see they are.
Hannah and C found their classmates and joined right in with the other kids singing with delight. I stood back. Listening. Watching.
They all knew the words. They all had memorized the hand and arm motions that went with the lyrics. And when gestures weren’t required, they had their arms around each others shoulders and they rocked back and forth to the tune. It reminded me of my camp days. Hannah glanced back at me over her arm resting on her friend’s shoulder and smiled. Happy. Comfortable. I smiled back. Tears welling in my eyes from the comfort I too felt with this Place she has been attending since infancy.
Her Last Group Sing. My First Group Sing.
Firsts and Lasts. I realized in this moment as I listened to the older kids harmonize with one another, and the younger kids struggle to remember the words, that we always take note of the Firsts. First steps. First food. First words. First haircut. First visit to the emergency room (oh, is that just me?). First time riding a bike. But we don’t as often memorialize the Lasts. And the lasts really are so much more emotional. Because you don’t get to witness the event again. It’s over. Milestone reached. Goal attained. Time to move on. Sometimes you don’t even KNOW it’s the last and then the First is upon you without you even appreciating the climactic ending. Last ride with training wheels. Last night in a crib. Last time wearing Pull Ups. Last day crawling. Last meal of baby food. Last day having fun at the playground.
And yes, the Lasts usually bring along a new First right behind it and we so quickly forget about that Last as we move on. But sometimes it’s good to sit and take it in. Remember it. Appreciate it.
This was Hannah’s Last Group Sing. The last one with these friends. Feeling comfortable giggling and laughing with her arms hugging her buddies. The last between these walls. Singing these familiar songs. Being proud to be the oldest of the preschool kids and honored to be the welcomed as the youngest of the larger school. In a few months she’ll have her First music class at her new school. She’ll learn her First new song. She’ll have her First performance in front of an audience on stage. She’ll make First friends. And we’ll all remember these firsts but know we have more ahead of us. And that’s so reassuring. That firsts bring on more memories ahead of us. And I don’t feel so desperate to hang onto the firsts knowing it’s not the end.
But the lasts? Oy. In a months time she’ll have her Last day of school. Her last day with these friends. She’ll have her last popsicle out on the playground on which she first learned to slide down a slide, pump her legs on a swing and climb across the monkey bars. She’ll take her last nap on the cot where she first learned to make her own bed and learned how good it feels to help others make theirs.
The Firsts bring on Lasts and the Lasts bring new Firsts. I want to hold onto and cherish them all. I want to imprint them in my brain and help Hannah do the same.
At my first group sing today I read the lyrics to their last song called “We all Have it Inside of Us”. I don’t recall the exact words but the message is still very clear to me.
We all have what it takes to be what we want to be. We just need to find it inside of us.
What perfect words for her to end her Last Group Sing. And start her First days at her new school. I hope she remembers these words. I know I will.