A moment isn’t defined by the variables surrounding it, but by the attitudes and heart we bring to it.
This week was Pre-K graduation. Graduation for a class, like so many others, that went home one Friday in March with cubbies still full, their artwork lining the hall, and a calendar of coming lessons and theme days on the bulletin board; only to never have another day of normalcy together in that classroom. The coronavirus ended their year so unexpectedly short.
And that could have been it. The staff at the school could have simply mailed a certificate and said “Due to circumstances out of our control, there will be no pre-school graduation.” But they didn’t. Despite it all, they wanted to honor this milestone for their students. They examined and considered all the factors and limitations, and then set their creativity and hearts to work. They dreamt up and put together plans for a distanced “graduation.” And still I wondered… Would this be overwhelming to the kids, would it startle them to see everyone in masks, would it be hard, would it be difficult, would it be sad?
On the evening of graduation storms were in the area. We dressed up, we talked to our little guy about what to expect, we drove to the school, we put on our masks, and still I wondered. Then from across the parking lot he caught sight of a classmate, one he always played chase with on the playground. Their constant giggle filled exclamation to the other had been, “I’ll get you next time!” His eyes lit up to find hers. And I watched as the classmates continued to take each other in, seeming to understand the new need for distance, but their little cups brimming over just at the sight of one another and their beloved teachers. The plan was that each student and their parents would walk forward to a designated line when their name was called. This moment I wondered about the most, would all the oddities of the situation, all the factors out of anyone’s control, all the unsettled feelings, would it be too much?
The names were called and one after another each student owned that moment with such celebration. Some walked, some burst forward into a run, all with full happy hearts. And my little guy that I’d worried would be overwhelmed? He heard his name, dropped our hands and proceeded to floss dance with confidence all the way! And his best little buddy brought out the dab! The resilience and spirit of these little 5-year-olds remained unshaken by the situational challenges.
As we climbed into cars to leave, a storm had fully moved in. The staff stood outside as the rain came down in heavy sheets and with thunder in the distance. They stood there soaking wet, waving, and sending off their students in JOY!
Any mom will tell you that Pre-K graduation is emotional – our babies are moving on to big kids! But, this graduation, the one that I was so tentative about, the one I thought would not happen, the one I thought would be blanketed by sadness due to all the ugly and hard variables brought on by the coronavirus – it was the most special, the most joyful, the most heartfelt.
Life will bring us hardships and storms, but our attitudes will define the story. Will we find the simple joys and dance anyway? Will we stand in the rain with big hearts for the people we love?