Yesterday, I attended my niece’s sixth-grade talent show.
Twenty-five 12- and 13-year-olds climbed up on a stage with a spotlight and shared their skill, musical or dance abilities with their peers. Thinking about it is enough to make me break into a sweat.
Turns out all we hear about bullying, tweens, teens, Facebook, Snapchat and the nastiness of our youth isn’t all true. The first kid up was a soloist and before she even opened her mouth and uttered a word I was holding my breath. I wanted it to be good. I wanted her to feel proud. And for a 12-year-old who was nervous and awkward as most kids that age are she did a nice job. But what was more surprising was the support she received from her classmates. Within a few lines of the song, they were waving their arms back and forth along with the beat of the music. Their coordinated efforts seem to embolden her even when the uncertainty continued to hang on throughout her performance.
I looked around at all these kids clapping and cheering on their classmate and I was a little stunned. Then student after student got up and stood on a big, open stage sometimes alone and other times with a few classmates and were vulnerable enough to show another side of themselves.
They were opening themselves up to being judged, critiqued, and worst of all, possibly mocked. And yet I didn’t see signs of any of that. Even when some of the performers struggled mightily I listened for what I thought would be inevitable giggles and they never came.
There seemed to be a solidarity that had been formed over this school year. I even talked to my sister about it later in the day and she, too, was pleased with how nice the kids have all been to each other, not only yesterday, but during the whole year. Maybe it can be attributed to having a sixth-grade only school, maybe it’s a fluke or maybe the many good, decent and kind kids are misjudged by the few taking more apparent missteps.
I didn’t expect to hear a Kelly Clarkson or a Christina Aguilera caliber voice at the show yesterday but instead I witnessed something that gives us hope for the future: Kids showing respect for one another.
Sunshine & Sarcasm,
Lowi & G