Alternative title: Why kids are awesome.
Some people in life are born with mellifluous, angelic voices that send you into spasms of naughty pleasure at the first note. Others are not. I feel no shame in saying I fall into the latter category. Over the years I have come to accept that when I eventually rise to international superstar-dom it will not be as a result of my musical talent. Most likely it will be because I have tricked a pseudo-celebrity into sleeping with me and filmed it. [That’s been done? No way! Back to the drawing board I go]
There have been just two occasions in the last twelve months wherein I have voluntarily sang in public. The first was in August, at my Aunt’s 50th birthday luncheon, somewhere in the backwaters of rural Ireland. Platters of delicious food, pleasant conversation and lots of red wine. Lots and lots of red wine.
A raucous cacophony of sound began at around seven o’clock. By that I mean, my somewhat inebriated thoroughly-wonderful-but-not-entirely-musically-gifted extended family started a sing-song. Ordinarily I would have skulked in the background, somewhat embarrassed. But today was different – Drunken confidence abounded. With shaky notes but sturdy confidence, I belted out tunes, forgetting verses and repeating choruses no end. Everyone there was family and all but two were drinking at least as much as I so there was no need to feel shame! It was a really great evening.
On the only other occasion this year where I sang alone, I was completely sober. I was covering a class for another teacher, but they were supposed to have Arabic, and my Arabic diction just isn’t quite good enough to give lessons yet. So we sang songs. They sang their national anthems [Emerati, Iraqi and Syrian] and then asked me to sing mine.
“No way” I told them.
“Please, miss” They are so damned hard to say no to. Besides, they’re eight, if they laugh at me I think I can deal with it. And give them detention.
Off I went “Sine Fianna Faaaaaail…..” I sang the whole thing, and the class sat enraptured. I missed notes – lots of them, but the kids didn’t care because they were hearing something new for the first time (Irish) and they were happy because a new teacher [I had never met this particular class before] was engaging with them at their level. They clapped for everyone who sang in the class that day, no matter how well or badly, simply for having the liathroidi to get up and do it.
As I got up to leave several of them hugged me. I get hugged by random kids every day at work, some of whom I could swear I’ve never seen before, yet if I randomly gave some of my closest friends a hug they would look at me all funny.
With every day that goes past we lose more of our “inner-child”. Society gives us zillions of spoken and unspoken rules of appropriate behaviour. This is important, because running around your front garden in your underwear might have been allowed when you were a toddler, but these days it’s more than likely going to attract unwanted attention.
It would be nice though, if just occasionally in the sober light of day, we could break free from the shackles of society and our own self-consciousness – croakily sing our little hearts out and give hugs for no reason.
There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about how much I’m learning from teaching. These kids are educating me as much if not more than I am them.