After the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, carrying on with our regular children’s programs was very important to the staff here at the Mesa Public Library in Los Alamos, New Mexico. I was assigned to do the “Music and Movement” program twice this week—at both the main library and at the branch library. The tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary affected everyone in our community and particularly those of us who work with children. I wanted to do the regular program but also wanted to to acknowledge the huge impact the tragedy has had on our collective psyche. I did everything as usual until the very end of the program when I added a Russian lullaby that is not sad, but it is definitely poignant. At the start of the song, I let parents know that I chose the song as a way to acknowledge the emotional upheaval we all felt during the difficult week past. The chorus goes:
May there always be sunshine.
May there always be blue sky.
May there always be Mama.
May there always be me.
The performance I used is on a CD called Global Lullabies by Freyda Epstein (1995). During the song we all gathered in a circle, held hands, and swayed slowly to the beat of the song. When the chorus says “sunshine” and “blue sky” we all waved our arms slowly above our heads. When the chorus says “Mama” and “me” we all gave ourselves a hug. The slow and reverent tone seemed perfect to convey my mixed feelings of sadness and gratitude. The shooting made me sad, but I was also so grateful that the children I see regularly at the programs are safe and alive. At the end of the song, I told everyone “May we all be as safe, protected, and loved as we are right now.” I also expressed my wishes that they have a nice holiday and how much I love having the honor of working with their children.
I felt it was better to acknowledge my feelings rather than to act as if nothing had happened. I only hope that I never have to adjust the “Music and Movement” program ever again to acknowledge my sadness about a tragedy like this.