Lena goes to a Jewish preschool that is part of our synagogue. Every Friday, they begin their school day with an assembly to celebrate Shabbat. It is a lovely experience with singing, candle lighting, blessings and birthday celebrations. I try my best to go and sit with her class after I drop Gray off at school on Fridays. This past Friday, Gray did not have school, so I decided to try and take him along.
Generally, when I take Lena to school, I leave Gray and Hope in the car in the front driveway of the building because Gray gets so excited/overstimulated in a preschool setting. He generally comes bursting in the classroom and begins his tornado-style assault on the toys, books and other children. Puzzle pieces fly, pages are chewed and torn and hair is pulled. It can be a mess untangling him from the chaos and he generally gets very upset when we have to leave quickly. But, today, we could stay and enjoy Shabbat and I felt confident that he would enjoy it.
When we arrived in Lena’s classroom, he immediately let go of Hope’s handle and started pulling towards the enticing items around the room. Fortunately, the tether did not let him go very far. I told him that he needed to grab his handle so we could move on to Shabbat, and he complied with only a little protest. As we walked down the hallway, he strolled nicely by my side and reached for Lena’s hand so that he could walk with her. After entering the noisy music-filled sanctuary, he took a little time to select the perfect seat before settling in nicely. It was such a pleasant time with him moving from his chair to my lap to Lena’s chair as he clamored to get the best view of the action at the front. It wasn’t at all manic, it was just happy and engaged. About 15 minutes in, he climbed on my lap facing me and threw his arms around my neck. He had the brightest smile on his face as he pressed his lips onto mine so hard that I had to brace myself.
When it was time to take the children back to the classrooms, we walked with Lena’s class through two lines of teachers who were singing and clapping and shaking tambourines. Instead of getting revved up like I expected, he just grinned up at them and kept pace with the other kids. As I looked around and witnessed the scene, all I could think was, “He looks just like the other kids right now and he is loving it!” That’s when I got emotional. He is not at all like the other kids, but I will revel in the brief moments when we can feel that way.