This morning, I took my six-year-old niece to school and stuck around for "Grandparents and Special Friends Day." I guess "aunt" falls under the "special friends" category in this instance. My sister told me that my niece was so excited that I was going to her school that she couldn't sleep last night. Aww.
When we arrived at the school, the principal greeted my niece by name and shook my hand when I introduced myself. We went to my niece's classroom and I sat in a rocking chair in the corner while she hung up her things and sat down at her desk to begin coloring what looked like it would eventually be a 3-D raccoon dressed as a pilgrim.
I joined the class in standing for the Pledge of Allegiance and then made my way to the auditorium after the morning announcements. It was packed. Most of the attendees seemed to be grandparents.
The children put on a choral program of African folk songs and I'd be lying if I said my heart didn't sink a little when I picked up the program and counted 17 different songs. Fortunately, the songs were short and the music director got the kids from each grade on and off the stage pretty efficiently.
When my niece got on stage with the rest of the first graders, I saw her scanning the crowd for me so I waved when she looked in my direction. She waved back.
Her class performed their Ugandan folk song and Zulu "amusement song" with enthusiasm and many hand gestures.
I was tempted to duck out after her class had filed off the stage and my niece had given me one last wave as she walked by, but instead I politely listened to the other half of the program and left after it ended.
It's been many years since I last sat in a first grade classroom and it was a treat to get to see my niece with her classmates. I'll be sending her a nice thank-you note for inviting me.