Nels had been telling me this for weeks. The Helen Baller spring program was coming up. The theme was "cowboy," and Nels's class had learned to hula hoop for the occasion.
Once the big day finally arrived, we had to leave the visiting Hamiltons at our house for a few hours while we went to the high school to watch the program. Every class in the entire school participates, so it's not the sort of thing one wants to subject out-of-town visitors to.
We didn't get there early enough to get ready parking, so Shaun dropped me and Nels off. Nels grasped my hand firmly as we joined the stream of fellow almost-late families heading for the doors of the school.
"Look at that boy's hat," said a mom walking behind us. She was referring to Nels, who was wearing a cowboy hat that was a gift from my mom. I think she bought it in Sisters, Oregon. Wherever it came from, it was the jen-yoo-wine article.
"He has the best hat in the whole school." Nels didn't look at me, but he stood up straighter and his step grew bouncier.
"He sure is lucky." Her children, a boy and a girl, voiced their assent. When I dropped Nels off with his classmates, his eyes were shining.
Here are the spectators occupying one side of the Camas High School gym. The entire student body (and teachers) took up the other side.
Here's Nels and some of his classmates waiting for the show to begin. The red-kerchiefed kiddos are Kindergartners.
Here's where he really hit his stride and I cried just a little. It was fabulous.
When his group finished, all the kids took a hurried bow and ran off. Nels, on the other hand, bowed low and slow, with a flourish and a wave to each section of the bleachers.
After the show, we came home to find that Amanda and Andrew had cleaned up the dinner mess I'd left behind, and they'd washed the dishes. And Amanda had scrubbed my kitchen sink cleaner than it's been since we first moved in. Yippee ki yay.