Friday, May 27, 2005

I Believe I Can Fly

Figured I’d leave some light weekend reading up on the blog before I take off.

In response to Muzik’s post yesterday (be sure to go over to his place and say congrats to him and his daughter!), Mamacita has posted about various graduation parties our kids have to go through these days: elementary-school graduation, kindergarten graduation, and so on. I did leave a comment about K9’s preschool graduation party, and how good it was. (Well, except for the part where they invited all parents to dance with their kids, and your humble servant danced the twist like there was no tomorrow, and someone in the daycare staff snapped a picture of me. The day I saw the picture was the day I realized that “thirty-plus” means “you ain’t a teenager anymore, so behave accordingly, or else you will look ridiculous”. Talk about a reality check! But I digress).

After leaving my comment, I realized that I12 did, in fact, also have a preschool graduation party. Only his party was a tad different from his brother’s.

K9 went to a very decent daycare/preschool. There was a waiting list, the staff was excellent, retention rate was high. At the graduation, the kids were asked to dress up, the preschool provided bow ties for the boys and gloves for the girls, and the kids showed us what they had learned in the ballroom dancing class they had taken for the last two years of preschool. (After that was The Twist, and then, everyone had pop and cake). K9 was a very cute preschooler, was a part of the Popular Crowd (did you know there even was a Popular Crowd in preschool? Well there is!), and danced with the prettiest girl in class. He still misses those days.

When I12 graduated from preschool, however, things were different. At that point, we had been in the country for one year. For most of that year, I had been gainfully employed as an Entry Level programmer, but it took Mr. Goldie a lot longer to find a job (also Entry Level). So for most of that year, our family of four lived on my 20K salary. Need I say we chose the preschool accordingly. It was the only preschool in our area that accepted Welfare daycare vouchers. There was no way we could pay the tuition fee in full, so we had to go with that. It was a run-down place, the principal was (by everyone’s unanimous opinion) touched in the head, and I12’s classroom was conveniently located in the basement. The parents were truly an underprivileged lot, not a single middle-class family among us. I12 had a teacher called Miss Yvonne, who tried to get some basic knowledge into him, but it was hard, seeing as I12 did not speak much English and didn’t socialize a whole lot. (She still pronounced him ready for kindergarten. He wasn’t. I don’t blame her, I12 has always been a tough case.)

Sometime in spring, I12 told me that they were getting ready for the graduation party. There was to be a show, at the end of which the kids were supposed to sing “I Believe I Can Fly”. Somehow, Miss Yvonne was under the assumption that the kids would memorize the words. Then again, even if they didn’t, it wasn’t going to be a big deal, as she was going to play the song on tape, and the kids were to sing along.

May came and with it, the graduation party. I took off work to attend. The basement was packed with parents, some with cameras, one or two with videocameras (not many of us could afford them, or else our kids wouldn’t have been in that Godforsaken daycare to begin with). Finally, it was time for The Song. Miss Yvonne started the tape, music filled the stuffy air of the basement, the kids were opening their mouths more or less in sync.

Thirty seconds into the song, the tape stopped. So did the kids. I suspect none of them was really singing anyway.

Miss Yvonne hit every button, unplugged the cassette player and plugged it back in again, checked the tape, but nothing worked. The parents were waiting, the two videocameras running. It was one of those moments that require a split-second decision. Will Miss Yvonne save the day, or will she allow the graduation party to be ruined by a crappy piece of equipment?

Miss Yvonne stood tall. There was a look of determination on her face. Her eyes shone. In a horrible piercing voice, she began:

“I believe I can fly,
I believe I can touch the sky,
I think about it every night and day,
Spread my wings and fly away…”

This courageous woman finished the entire song.


And then everyone had pop and cake. So ended I12’s preschool graduation party. And so ends my story. Have a good Memorial Day weekend, everyone!

The Goldie has spoken at 5:52 PM

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