Growing a voice

Young Girl Wearing a White Muslin Dress. By John Singer Sargent, 1885.

Young Girl Wearing a White Muslin Dress. By John Singer Sargent, 1885.

I picked Girl one up from school in tears. What was wrong? I asked.

“I like to sing. None of my friends like it when I sing. I hum a lot when I work. My friends tell me to stop. I like to sing but Boy two hates it. He tells me to stop any time he hears me. Even the teachers are telling me to stop.

I love to sing, but now I have to stop doing it.”

The words came with intermittent sobs and much sniffling.

I just don’t want to stop singing,” she whispered through more tears.

Whatever the facts from the others involved, Girl one was in pain. What to say, I wondered. I believe in the importance of voices. Finding them, using them, celebrating them. I also like to work in silence. No sound (unless it is happening live in nature) is my idea of perfect working space.

When Girl one was two and three she would talk non-stop, especially in the car, no audience required. If she wasn’t talking, she was singing, making up ballads that told all kinds of stories. Now that she is older, she writes some of her songs down. On scraps of paper. In torn up notebooks. We don’t have them all collected. If I could find one, I’d count it a triumph, but I’ve seen a few. Little verses with chorus. At eight, Girl one has a beautiful voice. Other people have noticed it too.

What to do?

I told Girl one about my working habits. How, unlike Daddy, I NEVER listen to music if I writing, or thinking, even though I really, really love music. And how her friends might be like that too. Being asked to be quiet, I suggested, is not the same thing as people hating your voice. Whatever the answer is, it is not to stop singing. The answer is to know when to sing.

We like to read together, what if we start looking for times to sing together? Learn new songs? I have a few minutes right now if you’re interested, I said.

Girl one’s eyebrows touched the top of her head and pulled the rest of her up on tiptoes. I thought she might pirouette.  “I would love that,” she managed. We went to the piano and got out my music. We sang one she knew and worked on two others. I sang the verses with her but let her have the choruses to herself. She poured on her vibrato whenever possible. Fifteen minutes later, I had to get back to dinner. She walked away with little spins.  Her toothless smile began at the torn out- earring- redesigned ear, and didn’t seem quite finished when it hit the other side. “Thanks a lot, Mom,” she said coming back for a hug.

8 Comments to Growing a voice

  1. Esther J Cann says:

    Sounds like you handled that one perfectly. Tell her when Auntie Esther comes for a visit we will make time for some singing too. The one thing I miss is someone to sing with around the piano.

  2. Leslie Lynch says:

    God gives us the wisdom we need at the moment we need it, doesn’t He? :-) So glad she has a mother who helps her find (and keep, and celebrate) her voice.

  3. Dan Jones says:

    I am reminded of the chorus of an old hymn by Oswald Smith. “Tis the song of the soul set free, and it melody is ringing; tis the song of the soul set free, joy and peace to me its bringing, tis the song of the soul set free, and my heart is ever singing Hallelujah, hallelujah! The song of the soul set free.” May your soul always sing.

    • Michelle says:

      I love the old hymns. There is nothing like them really. Thanks for getting the tune in my head.

  4. Samuel Jones says:

    Next time you are beating yourself up for not being the perfect mom…make yourself read this enrty and remind yourself that you can be pretty amazing at it

  5. Dale Sipple says:

    Amazing amazing amazing thank you. Perfect. I’ll come an sing with both of you!

  6. Christine says:

    Love this! Made me smile and long for the time when my kids were younger. Have a wonderful day my friend.