Poppy - Seren, age 5
How can we help little ones to make sense of Remembrance Day?
A year ago today, I rocked up at Birmingham Hippodrome for B'Opera First Songs, to be told "The Hippodrome will be observing a two minute silence at 11 o'clock."
My mind: "I'm sorry, what? Silence, you say? In a baby and toddler session?" My mouth: "Great, let's do it."
So just before 11, we explained that we would take two minutes to say thank you to people who had done something kind for us, a bit like our grown-ups do kind things for us. There was two minutes of bubbles with no music, and the 50 plus people in the room were astonishingly quiet. As each bubble popped I thought about lives given up so that we can come to these beautifully diverse sessions with so many backgrounds and nationalities represented at each one.
The little ones ranging from 0-5 watched the bubbles quietly. They didn't need lots of words, or to understand the way adults do. How often I'm reminded in these sessions that music and community are powerful beyond anything else I know. They understood a room full of hushed and thoughtful adults saying thank you. They understood something about the lone haunting trumpet in The Last Post, and they understood our session about remembering.
And the hope is that in remembering, we don't make the same mistakes again. And again.
We can get lost down rabbit holes of difference - different backgrounds, languages, musical styles, foods, religions, traditions... it's never-ending and you'll always find more once you go looking.
Or we can remember our common humanity.
I miss our Covid-cancelled Hippodrome sessions with the multitude of different backgrounds gathered together around music and solidarity - the reason I started B'Opera in the first place. Little ones don't care about difference. They bring us all together with a common goal of surviving the day, and, if we're lucky, sharing some truly beautiful moments together.
Keep remembering. And keep singing.