Last night I was delighted and revitalized by listening to a piece from Carl Orff that I had sung during my high school participation in mixed chorus. At this point, I don’t remember how many years I participated. It may have been one or two but at this point, it’s insignificant. What I did remember last night was that for as many concert performances as I completed, either in college, high school or thereafter, for many years no-one was ever in attendance to cheer for me.
Because my life story includes many years of my mother’s illness, I bear no grudges or animosity. But I believe that the experience of being without a fan base taught me volumes, as an educator and as a mother. My son liberally reminds me that I was in attendance for all his pursuits, ranging from tee-ball to trumpet lessons to auditions to opening theatre performances. My daughter also had a mom present for her recitals, sports or concerts, no matter what.
When I am fortunate enough to participate in plays or parties in the elementary schools, I always identify the pride displayed by those students who have parents in attendance. On the other side of things, I am also told such sad stories as, “Mom is in jail,” “Dad works two jobs,” “Both of my parents are gone” or other reasons why students have no-one there to celebrate them.
To me, it’s not a question of, “Should I be there” as much as it is, “What time should I be there?” There will only be one kindergarten graduation per child. There will never be another time for a child to participate in a sixth grade Halloween party. And as a careful observer, I can assure you that it makes a substantial, lasting difference on the children who have parents (or siblings or caring others) who take the time and effort to attend.
Be there for those who will be improved by having someone in the audience who is proud of them. No gift will ever endure as well, mean as much or provide an equivalent small flicker or sparkle to a song or baseball game. Shalom.