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Thursday night, Keneseth Israel Preschool held its annual spring program. I, alas, was scheduled to be in Indianapolis for businesses through Friday morning.

When I first realized this, I was just a little bummed. These things happen sometimes. Then, as I learned more about the program, I became more bummed. I was missing the big spring program! Matt’s declaration that “They can’t do anything yet; you won’t miss anything” did little to appease me. And then, when discussing this with a co-worker traveling to the same meeting, he a devoted father and grandfather himself, he came out with “Oh, that’s too bad. Even if they can only shake their arms you want to be there.”

That was when I realized that yes, yes I did want to be there. And that feeling, combined with my co-worker’s own need to leave Friday at noon (to see his grandson in a play, might I add), made me think I might just be able to steer things in my favor. By the time I arrived in Indianapolis, our planned author meetings had turned into a one-day affair. Simon’s program began at 6:30. If we wrapped early enough on Thursday, I might, just might, be able to make the 135-mile trip home in time to see him.

As it happened, by 3:00 the bulk of my work was over, by 3:30 I was steering the conversation to wrap-up items, and at 3:45 I was not-so-subtly packing up my computer bag while making small talk. And at exactly 4:08 I pulled out of the parking lot. The trip usually takes about two and a half hours, allowing for traffic and at least one pit-stop. If I could avoid the worst of rush hour traffic on 465, get lucky when I hit south Indy, and catch a reasonable break when I got to the 65-64 exchange entering Louisville, I might, just might, make it.

I got very lucky. Traffic was moderate, the weather clear and mild, and the road construction minimal. Thirty minutes outside of my office, having dodged the usual tangle on 465, I pretty much decided that I would only miss the program if there was some godawful pileup on 65 or if got pulled over by the police for speeding. Barring those possibilities, I was going to be there. And indeed, I hit Louisville at 5:55 and pulled into the Keneseth Israel parking lot at 6:15. I was thirsty, hungry, and had needed a bathroom break for 45 miles, but I didn’t care because I was there.

As appeared to be every other living relative of all 120 students enrolled at the school. I haven’t seen my shul’s parking lot this full since Yom Kippur. Actually, it was easier to park on Yom Kippur than it was Thursday night. They had traffic police directing people, and I ended up partially blocking a drive anyway. But I didn’t care, because I was there.

And it was totally worth it! At 6:45, the Itsy Bitsy class hit the stage. The theme of their performance, previously unknown to me, was Mambo! The girls wore ruffled skirts, bikini tops, and flowers in their hair. The boys wore shirts with a silk stripe stitched down the middle, sombreros, and ruffled arm bands to emulate vintage Cuban mambo shirts. You can sort of see what was going on here:

A post-performance hug

A post-performance hug

They came out on stage to Mambo music, shook their maracas like they meant it, sang “head, shoulders, knees and toes” and “the goodbye song,” and made it all the way through with no one crying or having to leave the stage. Simon, the same boy who was overwhelmed by the crowd at his own two-year-old birthday party, was up on stage, wearing a costume, and smiling in front of a couple hundred people. Matt told him he was going to a “school party” when they left the house, and that had apparently fired him up.

I cried from laughing, and I cried a bit more from seeing the changes the marvelous Itsy Bitsy teachers have wrought in Simon in nine months. Never, ever, has driving 85 mph while having to go to the bathroom seemed so worth it.

One Response to “Mambo!”

  1. blg says:

    Great one, Jessica!
    Great choice, great driving, great bladder control, great ending. Of course, I am crying.

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