Well, yes, there are those perpetual runny noses, the ear-splitting squeals, the sulky tempers, the whiny complaining, those bodies that just won’t sit still and a host of other behaviors that sometimes make a 60-year old wonder just how long he can keep company with the little darlings day-after-day. But when all is said and done, it is no secret why I keep coming back and why I love spending my days with children. For starters:
• Because they’ll give up a recess to sit and comfort their classmate who got bonked by a ball.
• Because they’ll sit mesmerized as Judy Garland takes them over the rainbow on the wings of song or Gene Kelly dances them through the rain.
• Because they (and here I'm talking about 3-year olds) will figure out fifteen or a hundred and fifteen things to do with paper plates—make sounds, balance them on body parts, skate on them, jump over them, skip around them, make Mickey Mouse ears—for an entire 30-minute music class.
• Because they’ll call up their 9th grade friends who have a day off and visit their old school, sit down spontaneously at the instruments and play the jazz piece from last year note-perfect. And then do it again for the elementary kids, complete with solos.
• Because they’ll stand in front of 100 kids and at a mere 7-years old, improvise fearlessly a scat-song to the tune Ja Da.
• Because they’ll hang back after singing time and ask you if you plan to take part of next year off again—and hope you’ll say no.
• Because they’ll actually take you seriously when you give the entire elementary school the “homework” of turning their parents on to the Nicholas Brothers on YouTube. (Close to half of them actually did it!)
• Because they infect you with their energy, enthusiasm, curiosity, strange but delightful perceptions, their intact sense of wonder, their laughter, their smiles, their polymorphically perverse sensorial engagement with the world, their joy.
All of the above was my day today. And I got paid for it. (And as John Santos once said when a kid asked him if he got paid for making music, “Weekly. Very weakly.”
But I saved the best for last.
• Because at 3 o’clock, I get to do carpool and wave goodbye to them. And it’s time now!