Let's face it, there isn't a lot of good news about these days, is there?
I'm pretty sure that I won't be the only one downing a few extra glasses of bubbly on New Year's Eve just to celebrate the end of a bad year. Just as we were getting our heads around the largest refugee crisis to hit Europe since World War II, Brexit knocked us all for six, followed by the election of Trump a few months later.
I think it's fair to say that, as a 'glass half full' kind of person, I've been close to despair looking back at 2016. My job hasn't helped. As a researcher, rarely a day goes by when I don't see a depressing new statistic that makes me question the kind of world my children will grow up in (I've just finished a blog on child poverty). And like many parents still trying to digest the events of 2016, I am haunted by the prospect of having to explain to my children how all of this came to be (the fact that they are aged just 4 and 1 does little to allay my fears). Not even my old friend, Jack (as in Daniels) has helped to drown my sorrows.
So, when I walked into my son's first class assembly this morning, the most I was hoping for was a brief respite in my otherwise dull outlook.
Boy, did I underestimate the power of little people in large numbers.
It wasn't just the rendition of 'Such Love' that pulled at my heartstrings, or the way my four year-old son bravely stood up to read his lines so clearly (even if I do say so myself). It wasn't even the 'assorted-crayon-song' about how we're all different, but oh so special (it was full on cheese by this point).
It was simply this: here was a room bursting with the prospect of hope, possibility and potential - all beautifully manifest in these wonderful children, singing about crayons and the three little pigs. And what a room it was! A microcosm of the UK, the hall was filled with children from all social, class and ethnic backgrounds - their faces filled with anticipation, innocence and a blissful ignorance of all things Trump.
What a force for good, I thought. What a force for change. And all contained within this one little school hall, with the words 'Nothing for myself that is also not for others' emblazoned across its side. And as I watched the children neatly file out of the hall, I understood why President Obama recently credited young people for making him feel 'hopeful.'
I was overwhelmed by all the potential embodied in these little children. I was reminded that, although child rearing may not grab the headlines, it is no less important. This kind of work involves countless acts of love, care and dedication, which is manifest every day, up and down the country, as families and teachers strive to instil the very best values in their children. And reassured by this, I walked away from that ten minute assembly hugely empowered by the knowledge that, whatever the future held, and whatever villain was next to emerge on the world stage, they'd have to contend with this lot. Some day. Minus the crayon song and three little pigs.
And if that doesn't sound like much of a threat to you, then visit their playground at break time to get another perspective on their 'potential'.
Never underestimate the power of little people in large numbers.