There are some phone calls that are predicable every year as the end of school approaches.
"Grandpa," the young voice on the phone coos, "Our big program at school is Thursday and the teacher said our grandparents should come. I have a speaking part. Can you and Grandma come and see me, please?"
That last drawn out, pleading "please" is enough to melt the heart of any grandparent. There's only one reply that is appropriate, "We'll be there." The final question and answer exchange of that grandparent/grandchild phone conversation is always the same; "What time is your program, honey?"
"Eight fifteen in the morning, bye." With that, the young caller is off to harass their other set of grandparents."
Why do school class programs always take place at 8:15 in the morning? I suppose that time is convenient for working parents, but has any teacher ever considered what that time is like for grandparents?
On my normal schedule, 8:15 in the morning is about the time that I am sitting on the edge of the bed, taking inventory of my moving parts to discover what is or is not working that day. It is also the time I search for my glasses, which I had taken off the night before and placed somewhere so I could find them this morning.
After all the parts are moving, and all the lost items found, I get dressed in my 8:15 in the morning attire, which is always the same old blue robe. It is about the time I get my morning pills on board, along with my daily cup of coffee.
I look at the kitchen clock and wonder how in the world tomorrow at 8:15 in the morning I will manage to be cleaned up and dressed, sitting in a classroom halfway across town, filled with strangers, waiting for my grandchild to utter their one memorized line.
At one point, I thought that I had a solution to 8:15 in the morning programs for grandparents. I would attempt to pry that line out of one of our grandchildren, or coax them to sing their special song for me in advance, so I could claim an exemption from attending their 8:15 in the morning program. It doesn't work.
"My teacher said it is a secret and we can't tell anyone before the program."
No amount of coaxing or bribing can get the kid to utter their secret part. My visions of 8:15 in the morning in the old blue robe, and unshaven are out the window.
For the life of me, I can't understand why the part of one grandchild in a school program has to be a secret. I have been trusted with secrets all my life. I promise I can keep this one, especially if hearing it would be grounds for sticking to my normal 8:15 in the morning routine. The future of our nation is secure, if every child grows up protecting secrets as well as they do their part in the class program from grandparents.
It is difficult to imagine there was a time in our lives, a generation ago, when 8:15 in the morning was prime time for Charlyne and me. Somehow, five days a week, we had three children dressed for school by that time. Day after day, it seemed second nature to have the crust cut off the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, milk money passed out, school papers signed, lost shoes found, homework packed, after school plans co-ordinated, and everyone our the door before 8:00 A.M. All three of our now-adult children now do the same things for their children each morning that we once did for them. How do they effortlessly seem to accomplish so much?
We "baby boomers", (that sounds better than "senor citizens") just can't do the things we once did. At least we can't do them at the times that we once did. There is very little we do at 8:15 in the morning.
At the doctor's office, the mid-day appointments fill up first. I don't even know if the barber who cuts my hair is open before 10:00 A.M. When a repairman is coming to our home, we always opt for afternoon appointments. Only the pleading of a grandchild we love could get us out of the house before 8:15 in the morning.
I wonder who select times for school programs? Could 8:15 in the morning be a teacher's revenge for having to get out of bed before dawn for 180 days of the year to teach our children and grandchildren?
I can picture it now. Several teachers sitting around a table, in a planning session. Details of the first grade program are falling into place. Some teacher asks, "What time should we have the program?" Without batting an eye, the rest of the teachers all gleefully reply in unison, "8:15 in the morning." I don't know what visions race through their head, but it is doubtful it's one of an old man, setting his alarm clock at bedtime, so that he won't disappoint his grandkids the following morning.
I have a suggestion. How about 8:15 in the morning school programs for parents, and then 2:00 in the afternoon matinees for grandparents? If the kids are great in the morning performance, think how much better they would be in a second performance. Besides, any program with such closely guarded secrets needs to be presented more that once.
It would be the perfect time for us baby boomers. We could fit in a matinee at the grandchildren's school between picking up prescriptions at the drug store and the early bird dinner specials. By afternoon, all our body parts would be limbered up and it would be easier for us to drop down into those little classroom chairs that rest about a foot from the floor. In fact, in the afternoon, we may not even need Grandma's help to get out of those little chairs.
Until the rest of the world gets around to calling for matinees for school programs. I'll keep on getting up and going to 8:15 in the morning school programs. I'll keep saying things to Charlyne like, "I never knew there was so much traffic out at 8:15 in the morning," or "Where do these kids get the energy so early in the day?"
I'll keep lowering my big frame into little classroom chairs, and praying they don't give way. I keep waiting for my grandchildren to deliver the lines they have practiced in secret for weeks, things like, "M is for milk. We get milk from cows."
Right then, something changes. After the line is delivered, at that moment when the performing child's gaze touches the eyes of a grandpa, and that little smile that says, "Thanks for coming, Grandpa," the little chair does not seem quite as uncomfortable, nor the hour quite as early. In fact, it even makes the "M is for milk..." line take on a Shakespearian quality.
Getting up extra early wasn't really so bad. It's only 9:00 A.M. and I have the rest of the day. In fact, I'm really glad I came to the program. There's always time for a nap this afternoon.
Sitting there, on that little wooden chair, my spirit warmed by that approving look from my grandchild, I think about all the grandparents who could not even consider attending the program. Here in South Florida, we have hundreds of thousands of grandmas and grandpas whose grandchildren live a thousand miles away. What any of them would give to be able to attend a 8:15 in the morning program for their grandchild.
Yes, those grandparents may receive an email or a video clip later in the day, but nothing apart from being in that classroom at 8:15 in the morning could ever capture the approving twinkle that I catch from my grandchild.
I think about the dozens and dozens of nursing homes in our community. How many of their residents would appreciate attending a school program at 8:15 in the morning, if only they could.
I also think about the little thespians whose grandparents have died. For some children, they never knew their grandparents. How a grandpa or grandma, looking from Heaven's window, must wish they could occupy one of those little chairs, if only for a few minutes.
Know what I've decided? 8:15 in the morning isn't such a bad time for a class program after all. As long as Charlyne and I can get there, any time is a good time to watch one of our grandchildren perform, using the talents that God has blessed them with.
I wonder when the next 8:15 in the morning program will be? With seven grandchildren, it can't be far away.