When I started volunteering with a new Grade 6 class in September, I knew a few things. I would challenge these kids to think independently, to express their opinions and to be no one but themselves.
As a symbol of self-expression, I knew I’d sing “O Canada” whenever I was in the class in the morning. And it is expression, not performance. It’s processing oxygen as you throw yourself into the world. No divas, no Eltons, no concerts … just human beings giving ‘er. Or so I hoped. I didn’t know how many kids would join me in song.
As it turned out, nobody did. Occasionally I thought I heard another voice come through, but usually it was just solo me. I wondered what the other twenty-seven people in the room were thinking as I bellowed out “God keep our land glorious and free”. Along with my disappointment was hope, that the seeds I was planting would nestle into fertile ground.
Yesterday was an a.m. volunteer gig. As the mid-morning announcements described the events of the day, I knew what was next. And the oomph inside decided to speak up:
“I challenge somebody to come stand beside me and sing ‘O Canada’.”
The opening chords wafted from the PA. I stood alone … and then I didn’t. Kids tumbled over to me – some shuffling along, some striding with head held high. About ten of them stood and sang with me. Oh my. I was indescribably happy. “Thanks, kids.” It was the best moment of my day.
This morning I was back at it, helping a few students with Math, marking a few quizzes, seeing who could find the typo on the worksheet projected on the Smart Board. And then announcements. This time I would say nothing. Would it be “if you build it, they will come”? Or simply solo Bruceness as before?
Alone during the opening chords. And then a boy appeared in my right peripheral vision, soon to be joined by other kids. We sang, again probably ten of them and me. Kids started things. I didn’t have to. Happy, happy, happy.
Will any of them remember these two singings a year from now? I bet a few of them will. And when they’re 32, rather than 12, may they stand tall and say what they need to say. Because their voices are needed.