Guest post from Criselda.
Last 2nd of December 2012, the U.A.E. celebrated their 41st year of independence. In line with the national festivities, my 5 year old son’s school organized a program for their students. For the very first time this school year, the teachers included the kindergarten students in the show. This was also my son’s very first public performance. I was nerves and excitement when I woke up that day, eager to see one of my son’s many firsts. I packed my ancient camera and 2 sets of batteries to be ready to capture the moment
The day started with a parade around the school perimeter. The kindergartens led the way. Most of the children carried the U.A.E. flag but some also dressed in abayas and kanduras, the national clothing of the locals. My son, being way too tall for his age group, stood at the back of his classmates and waved his flag with gusto. When my son saw that I stayed and honored my promise to watch him in school, his face lit up. He looked surprised but more pleasantly delighted that mommy did not break her word.
|At the back of the parade|
After the somewhat short parade, the students assembled in their outdoor gym. The official program began with two prayers, one Christian and one Muslim. This was followed by singing the national anthem of the U.A.E. and then the national anthem of the Philippines (My son’s school is a Filipino School). Having studied in my home country and accustomed to singing only one national anthem, I was sort of impressed by the effort it took to memorize another one most especially since it is in Arabic. But of course, the kindergartens just gibbered along rather than sang. The first half of the program lasted for almost an hour. My son and all the kindergarten students were such troopers because for the entire time, they stood and continuously waved their flags. I was most relieved when the host announced an intermission and she asked the students to go back to their classroom for a snack break.
|busy waving his flag|
After the break, the kindergarten performances began. The first ones on the stage were the class of the younger kindergarten one students. They were mostly in their early 3 years and were still so small and cute and adorable. On the stage they looked like pint sized elves. One girl, who was probably surprised by the number of audience in front of her, cried a river. Her poor mom had no other choice but to take her down from the stage and not see her perform. It was a bit heart breaking because the mom was armed to the teeth with the latest gadgets in photography. The rest of the class proceeded to sing “I have two hands”. Their performance was the cutest thing ever, despite missing most of the lyrics and being offbeat.
Meanwhile, my son and the rest of his classmates waited “backstage” for their turn. By this time, my son was already tired and you can see it on his face. This was to be expected because for 3 days before the school independence day celebration, he was down with fever and back breaking cough. Yet he kept his cool and seemed thoroughly enamored with his costume/black mittens. The anticipation of being on stage excited him and fuelled him with enough energy to stay the course. When their teacher asked them to go on stage, all the kids literally bounced with energy. I can’t blame them. I’m not performing but I was on pins and needles with anticipation. My tummy was churning madly, you’d though that I was there to meet Brad Pitt in person and not to watch a bunch of kindergarten students performing for the first time.
Finally they were on stage. Appearing after 3 year olds, my son and his classmates seemed gigantic for kindergarten one. One parent even exclaimed, “ ang tatangkad nila!”. Apparently they were unaware that the first batch of kindergarten one were a year younger than my son’s class. With kids, a year is a gargantuan leap in terms of physical and other developments. Spot on center in the stage was my handsome 5 year old son. He scanned the crowd to make sure I was watching. When his eyes found me, he smiled and relaxed. On their adviser’s count of three, they recited “Two little blackbirds”. I couldn’t understand a word they said and their hand gestures were all over the place but I was delirious with happiness. Next they recited “sampung mga daliri”. My son just muttered the words along but executed the accompanying actions perfectly. Then when he shook his hips left and right, indescribable emotions overtook and overwhelmed me. I did not know if I should ooh and aahh or laugh or cry or jump and shout. The experience was beyond fantastic and I felt really sorry for my husband who missed it because he had work.
Overall my son’s first public performance lasted only 5 minutes yet for that whole 5 minutes, my whole universe stopped and time became immaterial. Though his show was amateur as amateur can be, it was in my eyes, more heart wrenching, more gripping, more exciting, more magical than any Tony awarded Broadway musical. I guess when you are a parent, you see life in children colored glasses =)