I am really tired.
It’s Sunday and the Christmas shop is done and I am left with that looming niggle that I have missed someone or something of major importance out (probably my wife or mother). It is an all too familiar feeling at this time of year. I often think or feel I am wheeled out from one place to other to get us through December.
We have suspended the ‘usual’ curriculum’ for the past two weeks so that children and staff can learn their lines and practice their performance for the Christmas Plays this coming week. I am usually a real ‘Bah Humbug’ type of head teacher at this time of year. I just want time to wiz past so that I can put my feet up, pig-out on mince pies and sip a warmed brandy. I walk the corridors and shudder as Literacy and Maths books hide away in corners of the room collecting dust.
“Oh, those missed moments of learning” I lament as I write a chapter in my book called The Festive Season – Crimes against Schooling Part 1.
So, before I get a visit from the Ghost of Christmas past I need to share with you last weeks epiphany. I was standing at the side of a packed hall as children from my school and our partner secondary entertained us. I am more than happy to let you know I had tears in my eyes on more than one occasion. I was in awe of the quality and energy that the young people bought to the evening. They shone like guiding stars and they were happy and absolutely, ‘in the moment’. When the Choir did a spellbinding version of Leonard Cohen’s Halleluiah I was sold. Suddenly, I realised I was enjoying myself. I realised that by wishing this busy, frantic and off curriculum time away was a mistake. I should be embracing it for what it is. It is a celebration. It IS the curriculum. I remember a similar feeling the first time I was invited to a household during Eid and was given a lesson in taste. The warmth that was offered up was infectious, it made me feel good. Rather than speed this time away because I was busy doing other things I now realise I need to slow these times down and wrap them around me.
So, I spent the rest of the evening watching this incredible performance and every now and then I looked out into the audience and saw the pride and wonder etched across faces. I suddenly realised I was a small part of this – even though I could take NO credit for the incredible performances (That was down to talented teachers and young people). I had never seen these looks in the eyes of parents and family after SATs results or during a great parents evening. This was family seeing their loved ones detached and independent. They saw them for a moment as they will become when they grow older and leave. They saw their growing maturity and the relationships they had built. I sometimes think that part of the sadness in watching a performance for a parent is you know that this is an early sign of future detachment – That your very own flesh and blood will grow and leave us one day – we see them as they will become for a little moment.
So, I have one busy week left and I am going to take each moment and each performance as they come. I am going to stand back and watch and I am going to enjoy the warmth and the tears. I am not going to whine once!