Friday, May 3, 2013

Concerted Effort

When your Dad is a band director, you really ought to go to the concerts.  When your Mom is a band director at heart, you're expected to not only go, but also behave.


So many times I've come here lamenting the difficulty of going to concerts, parades, contests, etc.  And I used to either skip the concert to avoid the embarrassment or, in a fit of normalcy, attempt to force them into the "perfect band director's kid" mold in my head.

Both ended in tears too often.  Don't forget guilt.  There's that, too.  It's as our dear ol' music history prof said in college:

"Music should be framed *insert dramatic gasp* in SILENCE."

Well, guess what.  As long as we're in this town, I doubt it will always be framed in silence.  As long as the Senzigs are there, anyway.  

To my musically educated brain, the notion of this hurts.  It feels a bit like selling out, forgetting who you are, or maybe even giving up.  Like I'm forgetting the hard work these kids put into this concert, simply by having given up enough, as the inactive music teacher that I am, enough to show up to a high school band concert in my jeans, with my kids mostly in the same.  With my daughter in a tutu, sort-of matching tights, and sparkly princess shoes, just because that made her excited to go.  

With my seven year old son on his knees in the seat, leaning over and reminding him to stay in his seat when he attempts to get up, whispering loudly, "in your seat or no ice cream."  There has to be that little "or" in there.  And guess what?  It works.  For all of five minutes, but it works.  

With my dear middle child, my golden-locked Richie, sitting up perfectly for his Daddy's portion of the concert, then falling asleep in my lap.

You know what?  The one who fell asleep is the one who acted the way I dreamed my kids would.  And that is so sad.

Why in the world is that sad?  It's okay that he fell asleep.  I'm not upset with him.  But if you had seen the way my daughter and oldest enjoyed the music, and were completely themselves, the contrast is striking.

My dreams of the perfectly behaved children were not inherently bad, I suppose.  But the pride and selfishness that surrounded that desire isn't so hot.

The way I go to concerts, even with the help of my Mother, isn't at all what I thought it would be.  And sometimes, it's a little closer.  It has been in the past.  But for now, we can't stop on the way in and chat.  We have to show up right as things are starting, barreling straight into the auditorium and to our seats.  Once we're there, we shoot for quiet.

Let's face it, folks.  You put an autistic seven year old whose newest hobby, much to his parents' frustration, is belching as loudly as possible with a four year old who is just too tired for this, and add a fabulous, sparkly dash of princess who LOVES music and LOVES to dance... and well, it's going to be interesting.

And it was.

I must be honest.  I have given up on something.  Well, as far as our participation in these types of events goes, anyway.


I'm doing my best to leave it behind.

Let's think about this for a minute.  What is my aim at bringing my kids to these things?  To educate them on proper concert etiquette at all cost?  To that, I must ask... what is that cost?  Let's measure it.

My sanity.

My kids' love of band.  Concerts, contests, etc. included.

Having my kids, namely Ryan, so afraid of what will happen that he starts screaming when I say the word "concert".

I am not, please understand, saying that I have given up this venture entirely.  I have not and will not, and I will continue to social story them to death (yes, even the neurotypical ones) about the way we act in concerts.  I will do my best to model such behavior.  And I will keep them as quiet as possible, pulling them out if they become a major disruption... think screaming here, folks.  And I will continue to run as soon as the concert is over, as long as my Ryan is scared of the band hall.  Yes, he is afraid the lights will go off when he's there.  No kidding.  I wish I was.

But I am not going to feel guilty for taking them in the first place.

I will take them.  They will do their best, I will do mine.

Because the aim here is to teach them about Daddy's world... and my world, ten years ago.  The aim is not to have them act "perfectly".  What is perfect, anyway?  To so many, my Richie, who slept through the concert, is perfectly behaved for a concert.

What I'm learning is that perfect is not always best.

Maelynn shook her little tail feathers.  She LOVED the concert.  She smiled, grinned, and I had a very hard time keeping her quiet.  I gave up keeping her in a seat about halfway through. There will come a day when she's too big or feels too much societal pressure to keep her delight in things to herself, and until then, she'll dance like no one is watching, within reason.  This is the most still I could get her!

Ryan did his best.  And he messed up big time.  During one of the quietest moments in the concert, right before a piece began, he showed off his new-found skill.

You got it.  Earth-shattering belch.

I wanted the earth to open and swallow me whole.  But guess what?

It didn't.  It won't.  For whatever reason, social cues such as "don't belch in public, especially at a quiet event" just completely escape that kid.

Here's the other thing:  He won't always be a kid.  He will be an adult.  He will continue to grow, and even if we keep him in public school until he's 21, which is completely legal and acceptable, he will still be a grown man.  And guess what else?

As long as my husband is teaching band, he will get to see his Daddy work.

I may be in for some really embarrassing moments, y'all.  It may get better, yes.  But it may not.  And just as the earth did not open and swallow me, life will go on.  And I have two choices.  Take these things, learn from them, use them as catalysts to keep teaching our kids the way the world goes and loving them with a joyful, deep, all-encompassing of a love as I can, or I can crawl in a hole.  In the hole comes whining, wallowing, cursing my existence.

I tried the latter.

Having tried the latter, I'm shooting for the God-glorifying former.  Not that I'll always make it... but you know what?  I'm not going to feel guilty about those times either.

Life more abundantly... I'm starting to get it.  And it has very little to do with guilt.

It has a lot to do with effort.

Thanks be to God for giving us so many things to enjoy, and so many perspectives from which to enjoy them.

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