Today, my wife and I passed through yet another first in our lives as parents by attending the Thanksgiving program at our 3 year old’s school. I must confess here that prior to parenthood, I quite dreaded the idea of the school program. Any depiction of one in a movie or T.V. show always made me cringe. How could anyone possibly stand to watch a parade of munchkins dressed as trees, rocks, birds, and pumpkins toddle their way through songs about joy and happiness and all the beauty of the world, all the while surrounded by camera wielding parents intent on capturing every single solitary moment of this pivotal event in their children’s lives? Sure, their little out of tune melodies are cute, and it’s kind of adorable watching them all try to say in sync with the clapping and the little dance motions, and okay, it’s pretty funny when one of the kids just wanders off cluelessly, only to be herded back by some uber-patient caregiver. But how much of this can any one person really take?

Well, I don’t have the formula quite worked out, but based on today’s experience, such an event can remain enjoyable for approximately 30 minutes if the following conditions are met:

  • One or more of the performers is yours.
  • There is food waiting for you after it’s all over.
  • It helps if the food includes pie. Mmm, pie.

I’m sure that the presence of beer would probably improve the numbers substantially, but nobody listens to me. Anyway, my son’s class came on as the opening act. There was singing, clapping, and funny hats, but my little guy preferred to be the stoic one, standing stock still, uttering not a single lyric. Perhaps he’ll grow up to play bass.

After that came the older kids. I think half the fun of the whole thing was watching the teachers direct all this chaos out onto the stage. The cast immediately dropped by several members when they stepped out onto the boards, saw the size of the crowd, and ran screaming for their parents. The remaining players worked their way through a medley of songs about turkeys and…um…turkeys. Yeah, I think all of the songs were about turkeys. Oh, and being thankful for stuff. Like turkey.

So lesson learned here. The little kid school program is not nearly as painful as I’ve been imagining it to be all these years. The high school musical, on the other hand, I am still certain is torture.