There's a movie I watched once, called the "The Best Little Christmas Pageant Ever". It's a cute movie about this church that always puts on a children's Christmas pageant. The women who are in charge of the play make sure that everything is perfect and just right. Except for this one year. This year a family of children that don't attend church come and want to be a part of the program. They are not the most well behaved of children and ruin just about every rehearsal. It is not looking good for opening night. The women are dreading the pageant and are just so upset about the pageant not being perfect. However, on opening night, while things are not perfect, the pageant is...well....the best little Christmas pageant ever. The women, as well as the rest of the church, discover that these children, the ones that they really didn't want in the pageant to begin with, have come to understand what Christmas is all about. And that this is the most important thing. Not the costumes, not the props or the music. But showing Jesus to those who don't know him. Loving those who are the least loveable and accepting them as they come. It really is a cute movie.
This last preschool year reminded me of "The Best Little Christmas Paegant Ever". However, instead of being a hour and half long movie, this was a nine month long epic mini series. Kind of like "Gettysburg". Lots of fighting, large amounts of blood, and an occasional surrender. My class consisted of 12 very different children, coming from very different home lives and situations. It was, by far, the most challenging class I have had so far. I remember sitting at Five Guys on the night of the second day of school. My friend, Jack, asked me how the day went and about my class. I remember my response was something about how there were some kids in my class that I kind of wished weren't. His response was something I couldn't get out of my mind all year. He said that maybe those were the kids who were supposed to be in my class. That thought kept coming back to me at the worst possible moments. Right after I got told "I hate you, you're stupid" for the 10th time in 10 minutes. Or right after I was kicked, hit, and/or bit. Or when I felt like I was just talking to myself during circle time. Maybe these were the kids who were supposed to be in my class.
Last Wednesday was the last day of school and I was looking forward to it. Of course, like every other week, to get to Wednesday, I had to get through Tuesday. Tuesday was our class Preschool Celebration. We had invited parents to come and watch our class perform some songs and poems. It was not something I was really looking forward to. When we would practice, it would usually end in some tears, some fighting, and and a lot of "I hate you's". Not really something I wanted parents to witness. But wouldn't you know, that day, with all of their parents watching, those 12 children sang every song and said every poem like you wouldn't believe it. It was by no means perfect and I shook the entire time but in that moment, I wouldn't have traded one of those kids. And I wouldn't have traded my class for any other class in the preschool. Because, as challenging as they were and as tired as I was at the end of each day, I loved them. Each one. And now, a week later, my hope and prayer is that they know that. I hope that they left preschool knowing that they are loved and are important. Not only by their parents or to their teachers, but more importantly, by God. If I taught them anything, I hope I taught them that. It was not a perfect school year. And I am glad that it's over but it just might have been, the best little preschool year ever.