Tag Archiv: becoming

Song and Dance

Image courtesy of supakitmod at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  Image courtesy of supakitmod at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

As I write, the children are upstairs dancing. Three of them. No reason. Out of the blue, one said, “I’m going to my room to dance. You guys want to come?”  I think our musicals kick off on Friday night has us feeling artsy. “Sound of Music,” was a huge hit. (Juvenile search for free, legal music to download has begun.) The singing/no speaking dinner was grand. We’ll do it again and give it time to develop. One was too shy. The others had a grand time. Five year old quite enjoyed her attempts at vibrato. A highly recommended activity, I say.

Maybe it’s a small thing to hear my child look up from reading a book and announce a desire to dance. It makes me happy. My own love of dance is hampered by the requirement to move my body without a plan. I remember going to a concert once. Nothing fashionable, just a marching band on a lawn. I loved it and I wanted to clap with the music. Most everyone else was. I was inside the sounds of trumpets and flutes, cymbals and drums, I wanted to be part of the song.

I don’t remember if I was eleven, twelve, thirteen . . . but I couldn’t do it. I pictured myself picking my hands up off my chair and putting them together, but I was too afraid to try. Not sure how to start. Worried that everyone else knew how to clap in time, but I might not.

Since that day, I have learned to clap to music when I want to. For a time, I could mostly line dance (thanks to help from anyone who would go over the simplest things with me just one more time). Line dancing had the beauty of set moves to follow, but that skill has gone the way of things.

My joyful dancing, the kind without a plan, has been with my children. I danced with them as babies when we were alone. Later my children began asking me to dance. About kids and dancing, I hold to the following to get me through the occasional requests to participate:

1. It matters more that they learn the freedom and joy of dance, than it matters that beyond the confines of my imagination and the walls of our home, I have known neither.

2. Along with remembering me taller and wiser than I am, their memories of whatever odd moves I may try to incorporate into my dancing have the potential to undergo similar distortions if I can just keep smiling.

The marvel of it grows in me. My children are upstairs dancing. For fun. Maybe I was faking it to get here, but my children love to dance. Watching them, I see the shadow of small miracles. Of these I can only say thank you. Bow softly. Wonder at such good gifts.

 

 

Questions from a gorilla

I’m not sure what I’m going to write about,” I tell my husband. “Usually, I know.”

“Do mean your blog?” asks eight year old girl with authority from the other room. “Write about the book I’m reading.”

Funny, because I had wondered about it and then forgot. My brain is in a mushy phase these days. I forgot to go to the choir practice last week despite having specifically asked to have it moved to Wednesday. I would list the other things I have forgotten except I can’t anymore. The guilty moments are kind of blobbed in together. I know they happened but they’re mercifully hazy.

My daughter is right. The first non-Geronimo Stilton/non-Magic Tree House-ish tome (aka real book) that she is reading on her own, deserves a post.

“The One and Only Ivan,” is a novel by Katherine Applegate, and a recent Newberry winner. It took me more than a month to actually open it because the picture on the front kept telling me that I would not like it. The picture lied. Once first page was peered upon, the book only shut briefly for small emergencies, and to assure the children that I still loved them. I completed it all of a Sunday afternoon and evening, as the children need fewer reminders of my affection (really only food) when I am not checking on the banging, crashing, and eerie silences coming from wherever they are.

“It’s never too late to become who you might have been,” says the George Eliot quote at the beginning of the book.  (Consider rereading quote despite the dangers of doing so.)

For twenty-seven years, Ivan the gorilla has lived a resigned life as a mini circus attraction at a mall. He allows himself small joys but feels it impossible that he could ever truly be himself. In a particular moment, love pushes him to become an actor, rather than a spectator, in his own life.

As with any decent children’s book, it is as least as much a book for adults as it is for children. Along the way to a plain good story, the book comments on friendship, art and humour. But the part about it not being too late for becoming is the part that knocked me over. (I am currently sitting as a result.)

I’m wondering about the roads that I quietly hope for but assume will disappoint me. Maybe they’re not dead end roads but merely unknown roads, cresting over the knoll, around the bend, carrying on into the open country and beyond. You. Me. Who might we still become?

Here’s to the Music – Play it Again, Sam

Doing dishes the other night, the sounds of my son’s trombone warmed me at least as much as the wood stove. In one small run of eighth notes, I went from dreading the obligations of Christmas to realizing that, “almost December,” meant the Christmas Concert at his school. A sentimentalist I am not. Many a concert or school function I have attended as a grudging token of decency to the children I helped bring into this world. But this is not that. His school music program is exceptional and the concerts are a true pleasure. The Go-to-bed-on-time-Nazi  (me) lets the younger kids go and be grumpy for two days afterwards because the way their eyes brighten and their toes tap is worth it.

For anyone within driving distance of St. Michael’s in Kemptville, I cannot recommend the Christmas concert highly enough. The students will be well rehearsed. Their repertoire will be a wonderful mix of pieces worth doing. The evening will appeal to kids and adults of all ages because the performers and their impassioned and talented director will bring enough joy to fill the place.  The concert features Jr. and Sr. bands, a jazz band, and my personal favourite, a chamber choir.

On Thursday, December 12, at 7:00pm, something simple, true, and beautiful is happening. At that time, in that place, young men and women beaming with the promise of tomorrow will be making music. Together. For free. For you. If you can believe in their possibilities by attending the concert, you will be richly rewarded with the experience of something as new and alive as a miracle.

If you cannot come see these particular young people at this particular school, consider finding a school near you which is doing music well and then support them with your presence. Schools that value music need to know that we’re behind them because our children need to be able to sing. Children who sing know how to listen to the voices of others. They have seen and heard and felt for themselves the mystery of individuals working together to create a whole that is bigger than any one of them. Children who sing not only discover their own beautiful voices they learn how to make them stronger. They learn how to hold their own when others are singing something different.

This applies to those in choirs, as well as those in bands. A girl with a clarinet is discovering her voice as much as a tenor singing his first solo. Instruments are voices to which we have added imagination. What would happen if we were to hold our mouths just so and blow through this tube, or across the hole on the side of it? A hundred, a thousand, a hundred thousand people have wondered, have practiced this . . . and then along comes the girl.  She picks up the instrument, and to all the imagination that has gone before her, she adds her own. She finds her voice and sings an old song, now born into something completely new.

I am posting this now, in early November, because right now there is still plenty of time to save the night for this concert on your calendar. I’ll send a reminder in December, but consider blocking the time now. I don’t know about you, but I look outside and see a world that needs joyful voices. I see kids walking down the street, wondering about tomorrow, and I hope someone is teaching them to sing.

This Christmas season, if you can, find a school concert with outstanding music and go to it. Say with your presence that you don’t want a world without twelve year olds on trumpets and seventeen year olds singing Handel. Say their voices matter. Say you want the music.

Last night’s prayer

These days my son is almost this and not quite that. His skin doesn’t seem to fit right. Certainly he has no idea what to do with his hands, his mouth, or the repetitive strumming of what we hope are brain waves.  For the first few weeks of school this year, we wondered if he would ever be quiet again. Please, I would say through clenched teeth. For just three minutes. Don’t talk.

It is exhausting, that constant chatter of nothing. The kitchen is filled with information bullets undaunted by my pleas for a ceasefire.

I’m joining two bands. I’m thinking about choir. I can’t decide which sports. Maybe volleyball and soccer. Maybe basketball. Definitely not cross country. I like it, I mean, you know, it was fun, but if I can only do two sports – two sports – then cross country’s like not even on the list. And did I tell you that I saw . . . By the way, I’m only packing things for my lunch that you can eat standing up now because we don’t sit down anymore. We go out.

And so it goes. A boy on fire with possibility. Neither fish nor fowl but in clear sight of both. As summer slipped away, so did his inclusion in the many imaginings and games of his siblings. I watched him watching them. Unsure of whether to mad or sad to be leaving the group.

It is much too soon to invite him to be one of us in those precious pieces of adult time devoid of short people. He’s tall enough. I see him watching us too. But he isn’t ready for grown up land and we two who run the place need those minutes. Besides, he talks too much.

Almost two months into school, the chatter has slowed enough to save us the constant nagging concern about muscle strain in his jaws. Yet appropriate levels of noise and motion are demands he finds so unreasonable as to be almost incomprehensible. He complies with a mixture of curiosity, dogged attempts, and then resigns himself to non-compliance in a leap or bang or whoop of energy.

Everyone is in bed now and in the quiet I can hear him and see him for what he is. An off the charts excited boy, scared boy, not sure boy, trying to figure it all out boy, want to do the right thing boy, hoping to fit in boy, wanting to be liked boy, not sure if he is good enough boy, distracted boy, changing boy. Mom, mom, mom, mom, mom.  Yes son?  Mom, look at me mom. Ok, son, I’m looking. Sigh. Awkward turning. Mom? Yes, son. Could you stop looking at me now?

Oh my beautiful wingless fish and sputtering bird. Soon my boy, you’ll be flying just fine. In the meantime, I guess you’ll just keep splashing in circles cawing madly, tossing rocks at the crows with your shrivelling fins.

I will listen in the silence tonight better than I did during the day and await with joy your waking, where we may once more begin again.