I have the unique perspective of living my life in ten-week increments. My Music Together® semesters run in 10 week sessions throughout the year, during which participants are invited to share 45 intimate moments together each week.
In week one, much like the beginning of a new year, we enter the classroom unsure of what's to come...
Non-verbal, non-crawling babies are carried in, plopped on the ground, and stare in wonder at the exuberant energy of the “big kids” around them. They are conflicted between staying close to their special grown-ups and breaking free to explore the sights and sounds of a new experience.
Tiny babies are brought in with a big brother or sister, bundled into carseats with a hope of staying silent and happy for 45 minutes. Mom or dad is craving a special bonding experience with their first-born…a connection that feels different than it used to…but maybe, in class, away from the distractions of home, that connection can build and grow once again.
Toddlers come in attached to a caregiver – or perhaps tumbling beside their grown-up, one shoe on, one shoe off – either way – completely curious and ready to take in the space in his/her own, unique way. Some will stay attached – others will continue to explore, giving grown-ups a glimpse at how this child will continue to take in his/her world as a big kid and even an adult.
Preschoolers who “know the ropes” will claim a favorite carpet spot and sit, at attention, ready for the opening pitchpipe blow – confident and ready for the routine they’ve come to know and love. New preschoolers tend to quietly observe, practicing their big-kid coping techniques they’ve learned over the past 3 or 4 years – watch and learn…watch and learn.
And the grown-ups too…
Returning grown-ups know what’s coming – but still feel that sense of vulnerability around new faces:
“Is it safe to sing in front of these people?” “I hope my kid doesn’t try to tackle anyone today!” “Can we get through this class without a tantrum?”
And new families…unsure of what to expect:
“This class was expensive – I hope my kid likes it.” “Why is my child just sitting here doing nothing?!” “I’m a nanny – are these ALL moms? Will they accept me?” “Is it OK to nurse my toddler in front of all these people?!” “Great – I’m the only Dad in the room.”
And everyone comes into the room carrying the intense weight of whatever kind of night or morning it’s been. A sleepless night…5 sleepless nights in a row; A tantrum over putting on shoes; A grandparent who can sense it’s been a rough morning and is treadling lightly amid her very tired and stressed adult children; A mom in the thick of post-partum anxiety who bravely left the house but isn’t sure she should have. A newly pregnant mom in the throws of morning sickness who finds the strength to make it to class for her toddler.
And even I am a little nervous. New names to learn – old names to remember…finding the balance between meeting my returning students’ expectations of “MS. KRISTEN ENERGY” without startling my new students who aren’t used to me yet. And of course, the intense vulnerability that comes for EVEN ME – the teacher – to sing and behave as I do – amid a group of peers who aren’t yet sure they have the answer to the question, “Is this lady really good with kids or just kind of kooky?”
AHHHHHH…I absolutely love it.
I cradle these emotions so carefully during week one, shaping my every action from the energy in the room. It’s not just about “music class” in week one. It’s about establishing a safe space where EVERYTHING we bring into the room is taken into account.
Give it some time…
Eventually what happens is sort of magical.
Without even thinking about it, emotions are left at the door along with the diaper bags and snowpants. We come to feel secure and familiar within our little circles, and we trust that our time together is, simply put, safe. We discover that those big emotions CAN’T define us – that we CAN put them aside to make room for something good and meaningful.
We take solace in hearing from another parent that “My kid does that too.” Another dad shows up and suddenly, you’re the expert – and feeling pretty good about yourself, too. Grandma can send pictures to her frazzled adult children, reassuring them how wonderful and amazing their babies are. You hold another child while her mom uses the restroom. You schedule a playdate outside of class. Authentic friendships develop.
The physical, emotional and social development we witness within the span of ten weeks is nothing short of miraculous. Sleeping newborns emerge from their carriers, sitting, laughing and shaking maracas. Babies begin to crawl towards the play-along bin…crawlers take their very first steps to reach a coveted drum or tambourine (it’s happened so often in our classroom – the kids feel brave and ready to explore!). You begin to hear your children not only speak, but sing – not only clap, but dance. Their verbal, fine motor and large muscle development perfectly in line with their musical development – one in being with the other, as their brains absorb stimuli at record pace. Parents are amazed at what their children accomplish when given space to “just be” in an environment that supports their learning on all levels.
Ten weeks is enough time for a baby to organize a decent sleep cycle (if you’re lucky)…for a toddler to master potty training…for a preschooler to learn how to share. Pregnant mothers who can no longer sit on the floor begin with one child in class and ten weeks later exit the last class with two. Ten weeks is long enough for a toddler to forget what life was like before her baby brother was born – you now and forever will be a family of four. After ten weeks, I feel a connection with each and every family in my class – I’m here for you. Ten weeks is the difference between the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring. Ten weeks is enough time to turn the corner from darkness into light – especially if you’re open to receiving the light.
Ten weeks is enough time for an insurmountable challenge to somehow get sorted out.
I have the distinct privilege of witnessing miracle after blessed miracle taking place in my classroom – it’s something I never could’ve imagined being part of any “job” – but yet it’s changed my every day perspective tremendously: If these miracles can take place in ten weeks…just think what I can accomplish.
Give it some time…
I cannot WAIT to begin my next ten week session…there is so much about to happen before our very eyes…let’s get started!!!!