Yesterday the primary program was beautiful - after some sketchy moments in practice, everything really came together and the kids were all so cute. Now I can check off my last big responsibility here in St George. My job during the program was to stand next to the chorister and hold up signs to help the kids remember the words plus encourage them to smile and to sing louder. The kids and primary teachers got to watch me gesticulate and make wild facial expressions as I tried to help keep everyone on task (would have probably made a pretty hilarious video). Of course, the volume wasn't nearly what it was in rehearsal - nothing like a real performance to quiet most kids down - other than the twins - those guys sang their little hearts out (slightly off-key).
After the program, as the kids watched a Bible story video as a reward for doing so well, I sat there looking at those cute kids, all bunched together on the floor, eating popcorn and enjoying the show. I've taught Joy School to many of them. Most of them have been in my home and some of them have been here practically every day at certain points in their lives. I've been a Primary teacher to a dozen of them them. I've worked with some of them through tough times. I've watched them grow up for the past 5 years and watched their social skills and testimonies grow. I love those kids.
Then I looked around at the Primary teachers and presidency, many of whom are my dear friends and many of whom have been such wonderful influences in my kids' lives. Some of us have sort of followed each other around from working with the Young Women to working in Primary to running Joy Schools for our kids. Great friendships grow from working together on things and working with each other's kids and sharing chunks of your life. And that takes time. Lots of time. While I'll certainly take many friendships with me and will doubtless make wonderful new friends in this next stage of life, it's hard to leave the comfortable sweet spot of having good friends with shared history.
This morning I woke up to Oliver telling me his tummy hurt and could he snuggle with me. We lay there together, half asleep, as the sun set the red mountains on fire. Oliver said, "I'm going to miss those shiney red mountains." I agreed wholeheartedly. This stunning view from my bedroom window has started off my day right for almost 6 years now.
Today when I pulled in to the school parking lot to pick up the kids, about a dozen kids swarmed the car before I could even properly get into a parking spot. Isaac's best friend, Eric pleaded for Isaac to come play and said how much he appreciated us visiting him at the hospital last week (he nearly died of pneumonia complicated by asthma). As I sent Isaac off with him, he volunteered "You're always SO nice to me - thanks." I love that kid. He's so polite and just a good-as-gold kid. We'll all miss him. And I was just getting to know his wonderfully warm and kind mother - I've seen her at the school helping with various things for years but have only recently really got to know her thanks to our sons' recent best-friend status and her improving English.
Then the twins bounded into the car with their buddy - we'll call him Jack - who was coming home for a playdate. Jack and the twins clicked from day one of Kindergarten and have been such cute friends and Jack is so cute about yelling "Hi Saren!" and giving me a big hug whenever I see him at school. I wish I had more time to be a good friend to Jack's mom. She's been through some really rough stuff herself (she was on drugs when she got pregnant with Jack and didn't even know who his father was) but said that Jack really saved her - she's got her life in order, found a good man to settle down with and has two sweet little girls as well as Jack now. She's so sincere and earnest and so interesting to talk to.
Then our friend Keisha showed up at my car window. She and I chat every day for a while as she waits for her mom to come pick her up. She's this very articulate and wonderful girl who's an only child and whose divorced mom works a couple jobs and often can't get there until late to pick her up. Keisha produces amazing art for the Reflections art contest each year and once she got over trying to be Ashton's girlfriend in 3rd grade, she's become a very good friend to him and to our whole family. She loves acting as a "big sister" to Eliza and the twins and she's always there after school to help round up the kids for me plus she fills me in on how everyone in her family is doing and what her latest writing or art project is. We'll all miss Keisha.
Just as Keisha's mom pulled up, Ashton got finished with Safety Patrol and came around the corner, all smiles. He's so loved being at the top of the school this year (5th grate is the top at their school). He's loved the responsibility of doing safety patrol and has excelled in Choir and Orffestra (where they all play all these cool xylophones and other orff instruments). At their fall concert last week, he and a friend played a pretty amazing solo and their music teacher, Ms. Hunt announced the number like this "Ashton and Wesley have come in early every day for weeks now to put this piece together. They composed it themselves and I think it's every bit as good as any professional arrangement out there. I'm just so proud of these boys and I'll miss Ashton so much" (that last part said through tears). Oh how we'll miss Ms Hunt and the great musical foundation all the kids have thanks to her! Plus Isaac has been going to after-school violin on top of the regular violin all 4th and 5th graders get to do at school and he's really taken off on that. Both boys were playing me stuff on the violin last night and I got pretty sad that we won't have access to this super-convenient way to learn to play the violin anymore.
|Here's Ashton with Ms Hunt and his duet partner, Wesley|
|Eliza, Olivia and Asia - always dressing up and pretending|
Then we ran into our neighbor Corinne with her two little boys and she confirmed that she's coming to help me pack up the kitchen tonight. Oliver's had a huge crush on Corinne all year and Silas thinks she's pretty darn great as well. She's one of those great people who really speak to little kids and treat them like they're important. Plus she has three things we don't have that my kids really enjoy having access to via Corinne: an awesome dog, a super cute baby, and a Wii.
Now I'd really better get going on packing. And dinner. And a bunch of other stuff. But I want to remember these "ordinary" things that are common parts of so many days, these things that will quite suddenly become uncommon. This has been a good era. We'll all miss it. A lot.