My First Life Lesson: Nanna Nanna Boo Boo

This is a long story, but it’s a good one, especially for those of you with any kind of soft spot for small children.

I’m in Kindergarten. Yep – my first life lesson goes way back. It’s time for us to graduate. You know what that means:   end of the year recital/play/musical/photo-op extravaganza. The teacher chose the song, “If I Were a Butterfly”. Here are the lyrics (with proper credit) of which you have to read (namely the animal verses) to follow my story:

Words and Music by Brian Howard

If I were a butterfly, I’d thank you Lord for giving me wings
If I were a robin in a tree, I’d thank you Lord that I could sing
If I were a fish in the sea, I’d wiggle my tail and I’d giggle with glee

But I just thank you father for making me, me
For you gave me a heart and you gave me a smile
You gave me Jesus and you made me your child
And I just thank you Father for making me, me

If I were an elephant, I’d thank you Lord by raising my trunk
If I were a kangaroo, You know I’d hop right up to you
If I were an octopus, I’d thank you Lord for my fine looks

But I just thank you Father for making me, me
For you gave me a heart and you gave me a smile
You gave me Jesus and you made me your child
And I just thank you Father for making me, me

If I were a wiggly worm, I’d thank you Lord that I could squirm
If I were a fuzzy wuzzy bear, I’d thank you Lord for my fuzzy, wuzzy hair
If I were a crocodile, I’d thank you Lord for my great smile

But I just thank you Father for making me, me
For you gave me a heart and you gave me a smile
You gave me Jesus and you made me your child
And I just thank you Father for making me, me!

So that’s the song.  And as you see, my Kindergarten was faith-based. It was a Mom’s Day Out kind of thing. Only back then they didn’t call it ‘Mom’s Day Out’, they just said, “Yes, you can drop your kid off at 9:00a, but you better come back to get her at 1:00p.”

My Mama, with all her God-given intuition, recognized that I was awkward around people. Well, awkward around everyone except her, so she enrolled me in this school in an effort to help alleviate my dependency on her and my social awkwardness.  Really smart, that Mama.

Unfortunately, all the progress my young teacher made with me (and my social skills) were challenged the last week of school. Take note of the animals depicted in The Butterfly Song. There’s a butterfly, a robin, a kangaroo…It was no surprise I was chosen to play the butterfly in the recital.  I could, afterall, color in the lines, cut a square with round-edged scissors – I didn’t even eat my glue!

I would don a giant purple and pink winged masterpiece made of cardboard, with two handles in the back for my tiny little hands to hold it, and all its glory, in front of the oval cut-out for my face. For I would depict the most beautiful creature of them all – the butterfly!  Ta-da!

Only, when the time comes for Mama to pick up my “costume” she didn’t come home with the beautiful pink and purple butterfly. She came home with, you guessed it — the wiggly worm. What the…? The brown and slimy, why-would-anyone-on-earth-ever-subject a-5-year-old-girl-to, the wiggly worm!

“But Mama, I’m supposed to be the butterfly,” I cried. And cried. And cried. “That’s how we practiced it! “I don’t want to be the wiggly worm. Worms are for boys..and, and, and…they’re yucky!”

Mama told me that crying wasn’t going to do any good; that I was going to be the wiggly worm and that’s that. “It is, what it is,” she said. She did tell me if it would make me feel better, she would dress it up to look more like a girl worm.

I cried myself to sleep that night.  Meanwhile, Mama dusted off her acrylic paints and  dressed up that ‘yucky’ wiggly worm. In the history of cardboard cut-out worms, I would be THE FIRST to wear a hot pink, glittered bow!

Mama’s plan worked.  I got more positive feedback for being “The Wiggly Worm with the Hot Pink Bow” than I would have ever gotten by being the same ‘ol tired butterfly the school had been using year after year.  I was some kinda proud!

Though Mama and I have laughed, even cried a few times, rehashing this story, I’ve never asked: “Why the costume change so late in the game?” I sit here as an adult realizing there was most definitely a kid in my class that didn’t have the same Mama I had. That they probably pitched a fit at the thought of being The Wiggly Worm so their mama marched down to the school and demanded a last minute costume change.  “Nobody makes MY baby dress up like a worm,” she probably said.

I wonder where that kid is now? What trials has she been unable to overcome by simply pitching a fit? I wonder what the saying, “When life hands you lemons…” means to her? How old was she when she realized, “It is, what it is.”?

I stop myself from digging up old photos to see who ultimately wore that butterfly costume.  Instead, I find myself wanting to sing to her:  “If I were a wiggly worm, I’d thank the Lord that…I know how to make the best of a yucky situation.”  Nanna-nanna-boo-boo.

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