Flashback: The day you start at the Kennedy Center

[Note:  This review was written by KFDC Contributor Emily Moise, a local writer and mom of two young children.  She always has excellent recommendations for kids’ activities around the DC area. See some of them here, here, and here.]

It was a timely delight to take my preschooler to the Kennedy Center to see The day you start, a musical based on the bestselling children’s book by author Jacqueline Woodson. The plot: the first day at a new school with various new people; the setting: a familiar but livelier modern elementary school classroom. The message? The day you really “start” is when you discover what makes you unique, but also the same as people who may seem so different.

The show, an age-appropriate 55 minutes in length, is immediately engaging and interactive. The teacher, Ms. Veve, asks the audience self-identifying questions: “Who wants to be a writer? Who wants to be a teacher? A basketball star?” It’s such a special topic of conversation for a kid. One student, Rigoberto, clearly wants to be a soccer star, passionately runs down the aisle with his cardboard soccer ball and speaks his native language, Spanish.

The class consists of four students who are unlikely friends but are destined to be in the end. For much of America, the diversity portrayed in the book and musical is the new norm and something your child may already be able to cope with in school. Multicultural, Multilingual, Disabled and more; very few are exactly alike. How fortunate that our children find out at such a young age what makes them special and what connects them.

My daughter’s favorite part of the show is the long lunchtime scene. Some days there is nothing more interesting for a child than what everyone ate (or bought) for lunch. Food is a big deal in a young child’s world. The plot thickens when a college student, Min, opens a can of kimchi for lunch. It couldn’t be more upsetting for the others, but Min stands proud. The children figure out how to be kindly curious about what’s different, and also agree on a favorite fruit to share – a “beginning” moment in their friendship.

Ms. Veve leaves us with the following lesson: “Go tell your stories.” Finding your place in the world and with others can start with opening up and being proud of what makes you who you are she. Because “every new friend has something a little bit like you — and something else not as fabulous as you.” On the drive home, my daughter kept asking me for kimchi for dinner…

The day you start
Where: Kennedy Center | Foggy Ground, DC
When: Until 18.12
Tickets: $20-25

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