As I walked through the carpark on the way to collect my small girl from playschool on Tuesday festive tunes hung on the air. I continued on my way and the music got louder. Voices, singing, piano accompaniment, coming from the church.
I checked the time on my phone, I had exactly 2 minutes. Looking across the churchyard I could see that the other parents were queuing to collect their children. I’d just take a peek in to the back of the church to see what was going on, it wouldn’t delay me.
I crept into the back porch of the church not sure what I was eavesdropping on and peered through the glass. I was surprised to be greeted by a sea of burgundy coloured jumpers, like my sons wear to school, filling the church. I knew that the school carol service wasn’t for a few days and I had now inadvertently and fortuitously stumbled upon a rehearsal.
A second glance confirmed that the first burgundy jumper that caught my attention was in fact that that of my eldest son, sitting in the back pew with two other boys. Three Kings for the nativity tableau scene, out of costume but with serious, “we’re participants here” looks on their faces.
My son didn’t know I was there, I shouldnt have been. I watched him, sitting still and singing along to the service. A teacher beckoned to King 1 and he started his slow procession up the aisle to his place on the altar. King 2 followed him with a similar slow march. I glanced over my shoulder and the playschool queue hadn’t yet moved. Back to looking in the window. Next my boy, King 3, got the signal. He stood up assuredly and commenced his solemn and deliberate journey up the aisle.
As I watched my small boy, who was clearly no longer a small boy, but a strapping eight-year-old, strong, and confident, my heart almost burst with pride.
All he was doing was, well, walking. He didn’t know that I was watching. I was like a fly on the wall, a hidden observer. I was thrilled to see him in his school community, to see how he interacted and obeyed, how he held himself, and represented himself. Once your child goes to school they get this other world where they live without you.
The realisation hits every now and then that he’s growing up and I’m not there every minute of every day with him but he’s doing great, all by himself.
I didn’t realise that he would have a part in the carol service until last week and at that stage I’d rearranged work hours around both boys’ Christmas concerts, so I’d resigned myself to missing it. It was like I’d stolen a moment and made a memory. I was on a high over something so small.
I darted over to the playschool with a broad smile and collected my small girl. Together we sneaked back into the porch. “Look” I said to her “Can you see your brother there on the altar?”. “Yes” she said enthusiastically (I thought), “Now can we get lunch?”.