Last week was the 6th grade musical. The play was Shrek and Grace was the donkey (there were several). She’s been going to rehearsal a lot and I’ve had to run to Target to buy her a black tee shirt and then a black tank top, but on the whole I had very little visibility into the play. We never practiced her lines. We never practiced her songs. We never practiced her dances. I had definitely been very hands off when it came to her experience with Shrek. So I was excited to see her perform last week. It was absolutely marvelous. Grace blew me away with her confidence and her humor – she was funny and she sang well and demonstrated a fair amount of swagger on stage. It was great. I was proud and happy for her. These reactions did not surprise me.
What I was not expecting, though, was the swell of intense emotion, nostalgia, and joy when the entire cast sang the musical’s last song, This is Our Story.
We are witches, we are fairies
We are weirdos, I’m an Aries
We’re a giant different sampler here to try
We are puppets, we are rabbits
We are hobbits with bad habits
We’re a screwy but delighted crazy stew
We are different and united
We are us and we are you
This is our story, this is our story
This is our story
There was such tremendous power in watching these 55 children, many of whom have been in the same class since they were 4 years old, sing these words that I so loved. . Grace is twelve and a half, well on her way into the woods of adolescence, and there is much about life right now that doesn’t feel simple to her (or to me). There are emotional and social and intellectual tangles aplenty at school. But last week, as I watched children who I’ve known since they were nearly toddlers sing their hearts out, all of that was forgotten. Instead there was palpable joy and a tangible sense of triumph. They took it seriously, and they worked hard, and nobody was flip or blase. They threw themselves into the performance, and I loved witnessing their enthusiasm, their commitment, and their energy. I laughed and laughed, which I’d anticipated, but it was the throat-tightening rise of tears that took me by surprise.
This is their story indeed, and it’s my honor and privilege to be watching from a front row seat.
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