What a great, heartbreaking day, but in a good way. Today I taught music for what is probably the last time at the JCC camps, at least this summer. I will work there next week, but for the most part the summer camp part of summer is over. Now the children get ready for school.
I never thought I would fall in love with the kids as much as I did. Does that sounds weird? I hope not. It's been a great experience. They are all from four to eight years old, and even when they gave me trouble they were still great. All you have to do is get them singing, and you're set.
My middle group (I had three today) was the best. They were all girls, probably about eight years old. And they all loved to sing. They even sang along to my special, acoustic-dude version of "Call Me, Maybe." They also loved singing "Shabbat Shalom (Hey!)", "Yellow Submarine", and a whole host of other songs. We even had a sing-off during "Country Roads" where I had one group of kids sing against another to see who could be louder. The answer? They all were very, very loud. I think some dogs heard their young girl vocals a few miles away.
That became one of my go-tos this summer: the sing-off. I would pick a song, such as "Country Roads" and see if the boys could sing louder than the girls, or vice versa. Or if there were two groups to see if one could sing louder than the other. Or if the kids could sing louder than the counselors. They always loved this last one, as they always won.
During "Yellow Submarine" one of my favorite kids, Victoria, got up, and did swimming motions. I also fielded a request for "David Melach Israel" which was so fun. The request was from one of my kids who was almost certainly not Jewish, in fact most of the kids at the JCC camp aren't Jewish, but they'd all learned how to do those old timey Hebrew schoolie hand gestures that went along with the song. And it just delighted me to no end to see this wonderful East Indian child doing the Jewish Hand-Jive Hoe-Down as fast as humanly possible. And singing the words too! I was worried if the girls would all know how to do the hand gestures, but I shouldn't have. They are girls. Somehow they ALL know how to do this, even if they've only seen it once.
The session ended after 45 minutes. We all gathered around the music stand, and I sang "I'd Like to Visit the Moon" from Sesame Street. And about 5-7 kids were all singing it along with me. It was a great feeling.
I think I did pretty well this summer at this job. I came into it terrified, but left it feeling wonderful. There were so many unexpected surprises.
There was one boy, about eight, who was so much trouble. If I let him he would just cut up the whole time, dancing around pretending he had to pee, that kind of thing. Actually, pretty funny, up to a point. But they never stop on their own, you know. And his friend, a big strawberry blond kid was if possible worse. He would make every song about death and destruction, and all that.
I got fed up, and split them up. Then Trouble Kid #1 pushed me too far, and I exiled him to an empty picnic bench. Some punishment, right? He didn't want to participate anyway. But something odd happened. All the other kids, including Trouble #2, became angels, singing along with all the songs, and having a great time. Then after the session Trouble #1 came up to me, apologized, and gave me a big hug. He's just a little boy, you know?
And that's the thing I never forgot, they're ALL just little boys and girls. No matter what happened, even if they were crazy, I couldn't get really mad at them. They were there to play and have fun, and I did my best to help them have the most fun as possible. They're just kids, sweet, fun, crazy, sometimes loud, sometimes a bit obnoxious, but also kind, gentle, uninhibited, and totally great. They would greet me when they saw me outside of music, want to play my guitar.
I gave Trouble #1 a guitar pick today, and he was so grateful. I will miss him. Because he wasn't really trouble at all. You know?