Friday, June 05, 2009

Who knew there were other verses?

I confess to being secretly partial to a precocious 5-year-old girl at the homeless shelter where I read. Last time I was there, she wasn’t allowed to attend the reading hour because she had mouthed off to someone on the staff. But last night she was back.

She has the need to be in control. But as she used the pictures to create the story of “Madeline and the Bad Hat Boy”, I finally had to ask her to let an adult read so everyone wouldn’t miss out on another great Madeline escapade.

As we sat making hats for our activity, this particular child launched into “If you’re happy and you know it” in a beautiful sweet voice and we all joined in clapping our hands. But the next verse was “If you’re sad and you know it, cry some tears.” Followed by “If you’re angry and you know it, make a face.” And then “If you’re bored and you know it, give a sigh.” I think she could have gone on in this negative vein for some time, probably venting her emotions of the day. But instead we all begged her to let us be happy again and she reluctantly obliged.

When it was time to leave, she gave us all big hugs and asked when we were coming back. I hope until we do she has more reasons to sing the happy verse.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I teared up reading this, Barbara. Thanks for sharing such a moving story about the power of song and music. The shelter is blessed to have you and the other volunteers. I'm also reminded of anecdotes a client of mine who works with very autistic children has told me about moments of expression and connection they've found through music.


1:26 AM  
Blogger lettuce said...

ah, i like this! i rather admire the way she adapted the song to help her express her own feelings

5:02 AM  
Blogger Angela said...

Sometimes it helps us to make a face, doesn`t it?
But good to have friends who help us to smuile again! You are doing a good thing there, Barbara! These little ones are never too little to profit and remember!

7:12 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Anon -- I hope this little girl can continue to be calmed by singing instead of Ritalin. I fear someone will get impatient with her outbursts and just drug her up.

Lettuce -- I fear life is such a struggle for her in so many ways. She is so smart and energetic, but the system isn't well set up to deal with children like her.

Angela -- She was quick to demonstrate all the faces we should make. I think she may have had a lot of practice.

2:56 PM  

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