Sunday, November 7, 2010

Friday night

Some weekends it seems we barely have time to come up for air.  I won't bore you with the list of activities our girls have on weekends, but it's almost as bad as the week anymore.  But they have wholesome interests and worthwhile pursuits, so we try to accommodate them.

That's why this past Friday night was such a treat.  We usually eat dinner together at least 3 school nights, but it takes some doing, and often it's a brief meal dominated by discussions of logistics and statistics.  A sample school-night dinner conversation is a rapid-fire conversational do-si-do of statements and requests, and may sound something like this:

Child 1:  "I got an A on my Japanese exam, we're reading about the Franco-Prussian War, a kid created a test-tube toot in chemistry and I'm out of lunch money." (bite)

Parent 1:  "That's nice, that's boring, don't use that word at the table, and how much do you need?"  (chew)

Child 2:  "I need 5 pieces of neon yellow poster board by yesterday, I have to practice 2 instruments for one hour each, I'm DVRing 3 shows tonight so you'll have to miss Monday Night Football, I'm out of my special shampoo, and your friend called this afternoon and said call back within 5 minutes if you want the tickets." (slurp)

Parent 1:  "Look behind the piano, practice in the basement, I cancelled your recordings, use my cheap stuff, and you're grounded! (swallow)

Child 3:  "I need a ride home from Pet Rock Society, your laptop is too slow for my computing needs, the shower drain is clogged and I want to get my other eyelid pierced."  (gulp)

Parent 1:  "I'll pick you up at Door A, buy your own damn laptop, tell Dad, and not until you buy your own laptop. (dagger eyes)

Parent 2:  "I love family time.  Let's sing our favorite song...Beans, beans, the musical fruit..."

Not to say every night at the dinner table is as calm and organized as my example, and I really only have two kids, but there is almost always singing at the table,(sorry, Momma), and as long as Parent 2 lives here, there will always be some mention of tooting.

This particular Friday night was great - no homework or lessons to plan around.  Eric grilled steaks in the snow, and dinner was rounded out by leftovers, so I didn't even have to cook.  Conversation was leisurely, with lots of "code-talk" by the girls, referencing their favorite shows or music.  Eric helped bring relevance to the discussion, invoking The Blues Brothers, Monty Python and Ulysses S Grant.  Teachable moments followed by tooting references - dinner as usual. 

After dinner the girls dug out the snow gear and played in the backyard for about an hour.  Every few minutes I'd hear a squeal or scream and a burst of laughter and think - they're 13 and 15 and still playing in the snow together...thank you, God!

After they came in and warmed up, they decided to put on a little concert.  Mary Kathleen has been working on some difficult cello pieces and demonstrated her improvement in technique by playing several selections.  Her vibrato has become very controlled and steady, and she shifts hand positions now with much greater ease.  My heart just wanted to burst with pride and amazement.  When we moved here, Mary Kathleen really wanted to be in band - she wanted to blow something and be loud.  Somehow we went to the wrong meeting and met the nicest orchestra teacher in Indiana, who convinced MK to try the cello.  And here she is, delicately coaxing beautiful sounds from four strings with a clump of horsehair.  I just can't get over it.

Camille could barely wait for her turn to exhibit.  While Mary enjoys cello and wants to do well, her heart is in her art, specifically drawing.  Camille, on the other hand, never met an instrument she didn't want to learn to play.  Musical accomplishment is very important to her.  As a 5th grader she decided that she wanted to play bassoon.  It's not an easy instrument, not small or sleek or cute or even pretty-sounding (it plays the grandfather in Peter and the Wolf).  But she has embraced this instrument and is doing very well trying to master the sound and all the air it takes to get this huge array of tubes to sing.  Her Friday night performance was a reminder that practice is a solitary pursuit, rarely noticed by others until we decide to sit down and play audience.  She has come so far in eighteen months, I was truly stunned.

It won't be long before these people want to leave here and go somewhere else and have their own lives beyond these four walls we call home.  But Friday night, and for now, they belong to me.

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