Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Middle School Talent Show

My daughter participated in a music gala at her school last night. It was essentially a talent show, with a fundraising component added (raffle, admission, etc.) The show benefited the school's music department.

The kid sang the song "Colorblind" from Glee. Because of time constraints, she was only able to sing one verse. However, she had the opportunity to sing it in its entirety at church a couple weeks ago (see below) and she's sung it for me and her dad about a hundred times, so I think we're all set. She also had a small solo in a number performed by the advanced mixed choir.

I have to say . . . some of the kids really blew me away with their talent. One group of kids performed a step number. It was so much fun to watch. We have a local tribe that's very prominent in our community. Quite a few tribal kids go to my daughter's school. A group of them performed a water song (in the native tongue) and then later they did a smoke dance to a drumming soundtrack. I think I was just extra impressed because I think it takes courage to be in middle school and to proudly wear tribal garb. Middle school is usually more about fitting in than standing out.

One act shattered my heart. The screen came down and the music started. A student named Jocelyn came out and sang a song about her brother. It was a sweet, simple song with lyrics like "I love you to the stars." Meanwhile, on the screen, dozens and dozens of photos of her family flashed by. In each, the focal point was a dark-eyed boy with nasal cannulas sending oxygen into his lungs. He looked happy but there was clearly something wrong, health-wise. I wondered if it might be cystic fibrosis. The photos kept coming and I started to think, "Oh no, I don't think he makes it." Second later, a photo of his headstone appeared. He died in 2017 at the age of 10.

I have no idea how she sang so clearly and beautifully. It's only been a year since she lost her brother. The auditorium, which was packed, was silent. I was crying openly at that point. Oh man, I feel a little weepy just thinking about it now! Brave girl, for sure.

A couple of acts were less memorable, but it was obvious that all of the kids had worked hard. My husband felt compelled to whisper his editorial comments throughout the show but I shushed him because you never know when the kid who just performed has family sitting directly behind you. A band performed an original song. P leaned over and asked, "Do you have aspiriiiiiiiiin?"

After the show, the kids who performed were running around, taking selfies. I spotted one girl, an eighth grader who had performed in the step routine. She has vitiligo, made all the more noticeable because she is African-American. She's lost the pigment on her forearms, neck, and hands. Part of me wanted to grab her and take her aside. I wanted to tell her, "You're beautiful, hold your head up, wear sunblock at all times."

However, she was already holding her head up just fine. I noticed her walking confidently across the cafeteria, three friends following a half-step behind her. She was laughing, calling out to other kids. Later, my daughter told me that the girl is one of the most popular kids in the whole school.

I couldn't help but wish I'd been more like her in middle school. I had the same medical condition (plus a couple others, just for extra fun) and my experience was pretty much the exact opposite. I'm still bearing the mental scars from being told that I was ugly, unpopular, and simply "less than." Geez, I think I'm secretly jealous of an 8th grader! Seriously, though, I hope bullying isn't as bad as it used to be.

The talent show was one of the more memorable evenings I've had in recent memory. Say what you want about "kids today" but you know what? I think the kids are alright.


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