Maybe second grade friendships are in my face, since I just finished the school year, and my daughter just finished second grade. Maybe it is because one of the generous donors to my counseling certificate was a friend from second grade. Maybe it is because of this. Whatever the case, second grade has been on my mind, lately.
I corralled my three little girls one spring weekend to watch The Sound of Music while all of the boys were away. Forgetting that it is long enough for an Intermission, I settled in with them, to much initial protestation.
How do you solve a problem like Maria?
Immediately I was transported back to second grade, when I sang that very song to a girl in my class named . . . Maria. I thought it was so funny and clever, until the call came from a mother that I had called her daughter a demon. She didn’t appreciate that much. Turns out, it wasn’t so funny or clever, after all. Or kind.
I don’t remember if I found out from a parent or teacher, but either way, that lesson stayed with me always. It was my first experience with the blow that I had hurt someone’s feelings unintentionally and that words have meaning and consequences.
How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria ~ Oscar HammersteinShe climbs a tree and scrapes her kneeHer dress has got a tearShe waltzes on her way to MassAnd whistles on the stairAnd underneath her wimpleShe has curlers in her hairI even heard her singing in the abbeyShe’s always late for chapelBut her penitence is realShe’s always late for everythingExcept for every mealI hate to have to say itBut I very firmly feelMaria’s not an asset to the abbeyI’d like to say a word in her behalfMaria makes me laughHow do you solve a problem like Maria?How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?How do you find a word that means Maria?A flibbertijibbet! A will-o’-the wisp! A clown!Many a thing you know you’d like to tell herMany a thing she ought to understandBut how do you make her stayAnd listen to all you sayHow do you keep a wave upon the sandOh, how do you solve a problem like Maria?How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?When I’m with her I’m confusedOut of focus and bemusedAnd I never know exactly where I amUnpredictable as weatherShe’s as flighty as a featherShe’s a darling! She’s a demon! She’s a lamb!She’d outpester any pestDrive a hornet from its nestShe could throw a whirling dervish out of whirlShe is gentle! She is wild!She’s a riddle! She’s a child!She’s a headache! She’s an angel!She’s a girl!How do you solve a problem like Maria?How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?How do you find a word that means Maria?A flibbertijibbet! A will-o’-the wisp! A clown!Many a thing you know you’d like to tell herMany a thing she ought to understandBut how do you make her stayAnd listen to all you sayHow do you keep a wave upon the sandOh, how do you solve a problem like Maria?How do you hold a moonbeam in your hand?
A few things stand out to me as curious about this incident and movie.
First, I knew the song well enough to sing it through, which means I must have watched the movie or listened to the soundtrack quite a bit. Second, I can remember facial expressions and things about this particular scene that intrigued or bothered me as a girl . . . the nun who pipes up, Except for every meal with a friendly smile on her face ~ intrigued. Mother Superior singing, How do you hold a mooooon-beam in, your, hand? ~bothered. Third, I remember acting out scenes from this movie, including putting on my twirliest dress and running up the “hill” in our back yard, and then twirling down singing, The hillllls are alllllive, with the sound of muuuuuusic.
I am serious.
I didn’t really think that my friend, Maria, was a demon. I did think that it was interesting that she had the same name as one of my favorite characters in my favorite movie. I risked getting too playful and too carried away, and that is a big part of second grade.
Second grade is playful and funny and innocent and hurtful all rolled into one. Friendships need help to grow, and little people need help learning to care for one another’s feelings and hearts.
The sweetest thing about second grade is how golden the friendships can be. There is something about someone seeing and knowing you and liking you for who you were at the beginning, before the messages of not good enough began to set in.
As I watched my second graders signing each other’s yearbooks, I was reminded of that same activity with my own second grade friends and pulled out a yearbook from 1979 to take a look.
Here is a signature and drawing by my generous donor.
Next to that is a Bible reference. Always an important part of a Christian school yearbook signing.
And this message signed by a friend who I didn’t realize considered me her best. That is the beauty of second grade friendships. Every one is the best!
I love you, my grown-up second grade friends. You, too, Maria.
You’re a lamb, wherever you are.