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The potential of the average person is like a huge ocean unsailed, a new continent unexplored, a world of possibilities waiting to be released and channeled toward some great good. (Brian Tracy) 

The outdoor parade at Rebecca’s kindergarten is cancelled. An indoor march will need to suffice. I’m surprised by the silence I feel inside the school.  I may be a few minutes early. But I can’t be the only parent or grandparent who wanted a good parking place. The lot isn’t empty.  I don’t look for Rebe’s daddy. He couldn’t have arrived yet. He called from work less than an hour ago to let me know about the change of plans.

The closed inner door is no surprise. It’s a security measure. The quiet, however, shouts change. The violence at Sandy Hook and other schools has affected facilities everywhere. When Kate was this age there would have been a group in the waiting area outside the office. Camaraderie, enthusiasm, and anticipation would have swelled, even in a small group, perhaps moved to the gym.

Someone from the office I recognize smiles and gestures me inside. I sign-in and she gives me a neon red badge. “Do you know where Rebe’s room is?” she asks.

I don’t. She leads me to the correct corridor. A few adults, probably teachers and aids, seem to be planning something. No children are in the room. Rebe’s teacher says the class is in the music room next door. I am welcome to visit. All this time I wonder where the rest of the visitors are hiding. Is hide-and-go-seek on the agenda? No one was in the gym. My watch reads 10:20. Class dismisses at 11:00. I assumed 10:30 should be a good time to arrive.

Rebe’s smile widens, yet she refrains from rushing into my lap. I can tell by her body language that she is using considerable restraint. When the teacher announces that the children will be watching a movie with Disney songs I see a chair in the back of the room and ease toward it. Perhaps if my granddaughter doesn’t see me the temptation to step out of line won’t be as difficult.

“Sing if you know the words, boys and girls,” the teacher says. A few of the kids turn around as I join in on such oldies as “Zip-a-dee-doo-dah” and “A Very Merry Unbirthday,” but they don’t comment. I keep my voice soft. After all, this isn’t a performance. I am visiting their space.

I am the only adult visitor in the music room.

If the action begins at 10:30 it will start late. My watch reads 10:40. Greg, Rebe’s daddy, calls my cell phone. He is in her classroom. Security has fragmented the visitors. Their numbers don’t appear until our little parade reaches the gym, hardly a mob. How many folk can get off work on a Thursday in the late morning? However, there are enough to create an audience to make a circle of children feel special. Greg may be present, but he needs to return to the office.

The children look no different than they did when fourth-grader Kate was beginning school. Superman flexes his immature muscles, ghouls rule, and one boy asks if he got to be in the picture Greg took of Rebe. I nod. He beams. However, I don’t recall Kate telling me about the drill they had at school about what-we-would-do-if-the-bad-people-came.

Rebe hugs me as I leave. So does one of the other girls. All I know about her is that she is in Rebe’s class, and that she is a precious kindergartener. One hug can’t overcome hate and fear. The problems that lead to violence are deep-rooted. They don’t have an easy fix. They need the attention of all, an awareness that transcends security.

Rebe is Rosie the Riveter. She wears a badge that reads “Yes, we can.” Perhaps that message can be extended beyond World War II. It will take time. Any worthwhile cause does.

hug power Charles M. Schulz Museum

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