Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Little Joys

I've spent a portion of the last two days doing my absolute favorite thing in the world- reading to kids. Thanks to the support and encouragement from Michelle Brados at Southminster Nursery School, I've got a monthly gig as "the story lady", performing for two year-olds up through the Pre-K classes and Kindergarten Enrichment kids. It is the best job on the planet and I know this because I would do it for free- it brings me nothing but joy. There is something so spectacular about an audience of little people who feel no obligation whatsoever to applaud your work unless they truly feel it in their bones- then they laugh hysterically and sometimes fall over- which is all the complement I need.

This month I chose my all-time favorite Halloween book- "The Vanishing Pumpkin" by Tony Johnston and Tomie De Paola. I found it at a used book sale about nine years ago and have probably read it over a hundred times since (I'm certain I could recite it in my sleep), slowly but surely perfecting the voices of the 700 year-old woman, the 800 year-old man, the ghoul, the rapscallion, the varmint, and the 900 year-old wizard. For the older kids, I also added a rousing rendition of "Shake dem Halloween Bones" by W. Nikola Lisa,
a story I discovered a couple of years ago at the library and have somehow created a catchy tune by which to sing it in its entirety. Watching the miniature hips of the kids shake back in forth (and the slightly bigger hips of the teachers doing the same) is unbelievably gratifying, though at some points I had to actually remind them to move, as they seemed to fall into some sort of catatonic state listening to my rather tune-less voice bellowing from the front of the room (it is really a form of humility to sing to a crowd, no matter the age, when you have absolutely zero talent in that department- but when a story demands it- you've just gotta do it).

These are the hours that I catch a glimpse of my true self and I like it- I've had a flair for the dramatic all my life, stemming for the most part from only-childom, spending hours talking to myself in my room of our apartment- you name it and I'd created some storyline I was working through with my imaginary friends and dolls. Sometimes I was the mom, or the neighbor, or, in 1980, the wife of one of the hostages in Tehran (I kid you not- I was such a ding-bat). I did some children's theater in high school but my absolute fear of failure held me back from many an audition so my skills remained dormant until I had children of my own to entertain. If I had my life to live over again......

For now, I am thankful to the small souls of Southminster Nursery School, who allow me to act like a complete idiot, and, every once in a while, seem to enjoy the fact that I do.


kirsten said...

now i have to say, that sure sounds like a fun gig!! i can't believe it's almost time for halloween yet.

am i too old to have the dilemma of "i wonder what i'll be this year?"

good to hear your "voice" again!! :o)

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Forty-three year-old, mother and staunch advocate of four young children, passionate warrior of truth and self, finding the soul in each day, sharing my struggles and triumphs as I live them. Mostly I do this for me, so my thoughts don't race as much at night as they used to. But I also give this to those of you who need to know, in any or every way, that you are not alone.

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