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  • Writer's pictureViva Sarah Press

How I failed to be a sniffling soprano

Updated: Jan 12, 2020

In 2018-2019, my alter ego, Oshi, worked in schools as an educational clown. I blog about my experiences in the different schools from Oshi's perspective.

Silvie, a sixth grader, loved greeting me in the hallway.

She knew I came every Wednesday to clown at her school, and she would always come over to say, Hi.

Always a smile on her face. Always bubbly. Always playing with her blond hair while telling me a funny story (always a funny story) that happened to her or someone in her family.

Except for one Wednesday.

It was Silvie’s sidekick, Iris, who led me to my friend. Iris saw me in the playground. She came over to tell me that Silvie was very sad. When I met Silvie, she was crying.

I am not her parent. Not her teacher. I am Oshi, a clown, who, at the time, worked in her school once a week.

Yet, we had a friendship bond. She was my friend. I was hers.

Good friends offer comfort. Especially when friends are sad. Always.

I hugged her. Through hiccups and sniffling, Silvie unfolded a long woeful tale of how even though she is tone-deaf, she really wanted to sing in a school ceremony.

She was very sad that she got just a few lines. She knows her singing is not a strong point. But still.

Her friends, who had gathered around us, tried to cheer her up. They told her not to be sad.

I told her to be sad.

“No, Oshi,” they said. “We need to make her feel better. Not sadder.”

I asked Silvie if she’s sad. She said, yes. So, I felt sad, too. My friend was sad.

I asked Silvie to feel the sadness. To really acknowledge the feeling. Silvie explained that her sadness hurt. I asked her friends to join us; to be sad with us and feel the sad pain.

At first they thought I did not understand. Why encourage sadness?

I explained that each feeling is worthy. Silvie is sad. She needs us to acknowledge her sadness.

So, we were all sad together.

Silvie sniffled. We all sniffled. Silvie wiped her tears, we wiped ours.

I didn’t know when to sniffle. I asked Silvie to tell me when.

I didn’t know when to hiccup or tear. Silvie was again my chosen maestro.

It was an orchestra of sniffling. Everyone seemed to know when to whine high or low. I had to ask. I couldn’t figure out how everyone else knew what to do and when. I asked about that, too.

Silvie started to giggle. She said my timing was terrible.

I was not meant to be in her sniffling symphony, it would seem.

She also announced that she felt better. And her gaggle of friends announced they felt better, too.

So, I felt better.

Walking back to her classroom, Silvie whispered to me that it’s okay that I couldn’t sniffle in harmony with the rest of her friends. She peppered me with compliments about my tries to sniffle in sync. She promised we’d still be friends even if I’m not a sniffling soprano.

Update: I clowned in schools from 2018-2019. I now give talks and blog about this extraordinary experience.

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