Thursday, October 23, 2014

Sing, Sing a Song

I was listening to a story on the radio yesterday. I didn't hear much of it but it was an interview with a writer/songwriter. He was talking about a book he wrote and then the interviewer asked him whether he prefers writing books or songs more. He, with no hesitation said, they cannot be compared. He said singing is like fire and we do it from the second we are born. He said writing is a much more calculated process. I had never thought about just how primal singing is. We voice ourselves immediately out of the womb. Everyone's first sounds are not small whispered mubblings, rather, loud wailing and musical. What a wonderful way to start!

Music was always a big part of my household growing up. My mother, a classical pianist, taught piano lessons after school. During the day she was a music teacher at a school as well. My sister played violin, my brother the french horn, and I studied a bit of piano, and violin, but mostly I loved to sing. My mother and I were a duo from the time I was three. She and I would perform on stage in concert at my grandmothers senior group as well as for anyone in our house who would listen. I had a big voice for a little girl and I remember wearing a gingham gown and standing center stage in front of a sea of gray haired audience members. My grandma was in the front row always smiling at me. I loved her and it made me happy to see her happy.

At school I was part of the chorus and although I loved singing together with friends I was a hog when it came time to solos. I always auditioned to sing on my own and loved duets as well. My best friend and I did one together once for a recital and to this day she still sings parts of it on my voicemail for my birthday sometimes. As a teenager I would reenact my favorite ballads from Broadway musicals in front of the mirror. When I was most upset and heavy with teenage angst I felt singing was the single most effective way out of it. Classical was always on in the house or car and my mom would bet my sister a dollar if she could guess the composer. She stopped playing that with my brother and I. Either because she would have gone broke or we didn't know the answers as well. Can't remember which. Music was joy for me. It was the sound I remember most in my house, and anything traditional we did religiously or spiritually that has stuck with me today has only remained because there was music attached to it.

These days the music most played in my car or home is again of the musical theater kind. If my husband can help it he switches it to only the finest up and coming indie band, but he is overruled usually by my daughter and recently by my two year old son. Annie and Frozen are still top of the most played here. After January came and went I felt relieved to take a "Let it Go" break but recently when we played it randomly my little one became hooked. Now he asks for "Posen" all the time. Many have a love hate relationship with Frozen. I really thought I might scream if I had to listen to anymore, but then it would be on in the car and I would think I could tune it out and then moments later I am belting it out with my munchkins in the back seat. As a mother daughter duo Twig and I would sing the duets together this past winter and my husband from the side line would jokingly smirk and tell me I was living my dream singing with her. In response I would say "yes and your nightmare." I too can poke fun at theater geeks because it is an annoying group but sometimes they are having more fun than the rest of us, so its easy to be bitter.

The last few weeks after I drop my daughter off at school I take my son to one of the local parks. I have met a few nice moms, but I have met even more nice nannies and grandmothers. At two, my son is starting to interact more and more with kids his own age, so when he sees the regular park goers he is excited to play. Last time a few of us were sitting at a picnic table taking a snack break when I channeled my mother. One of the nannies mentioned how sometimes she brings books to read at the park and the next thing I knew I was running a mini song session with two nannies, a grandma, and four kids. I'm not exactly sure how we all started singing but we went through quite a repertoire of songs.

When a flyer came home last week for the elementary school choir at Twig's school I was relieved. It wasn't just happy and excited it was a relief to see that she could be part of something bigger than just she and I singing in the kitchen. That I wouldn't be the sole person holding the responsibility of her getting the opportunity to open her mouth to sing. Don't get me wrong she sings all the time at home but this opportunity to sing in a choir is special and even if the teacher sucks, singing together with a group of other children is special. She was ambivalent at first and then she realized how many of her friends were doing it as well, and she got excited. So Wednesday mornings we will leave extra early to get to school for choir. To and from school my son asks for "Posen" and 99% of the time I put it on for him. Just as I feel the need to scream from "Do you want a build a snowman?" countless times, his little voice chimes in with them. Each day he is gaining more and more words and yet the fact that he couldn't even say a full sentence doesn't stop him from singing a song. He has a great ear and can sing on key, he usually sings the last word of each sentence really clearly. It pretty sweet to hear. I tell myself when I get sick of the music I will be sicker when the day comes when he doesn't want to sing out loud anymore, because it will come. Hopefully before he becomes a big theater geek though.

Sing Out Loud, Sing Out Strong,
Don't worry if its not good enough
For anyone else to hear,
Just sing, Sing a Song!

Monday, October 20, 2014

New Girls

With all the changes come a lot of emotions. New apartment, new area, new school, new gymnastics. It's a lot for me to get used to, let alone my 6 year old. My little one just needs two or three days in a place and he will yell out "home" the second we turn into the driveway. In his short life he has already moved practically 4 times. My daughter is a lot more aware of how different her life is now. She loved Kindergarten and now that we moved, there was a lot of longing for her old school.

Kids are adaptable and will follow your lead on how big of a deal you make something. I have been working really hard on my poker face and showing her that new situations are exciting and an adventure. The truth is that I do feel that way but in the past my fear typically over shadowed the excitement. As an adult the stress and fear combined can be a distracting combo but this time I promised myself to stay positive. My close friend talked me into trying to take it all as it came. Boy did come at us this summer, with all the moves and unknown elements of where we would live. I took her advice and I am not going to say there hasn't been challenging moments but I am impressed with my stability through this process.

When my girl looks up at me and tells me she has butterflies on the first day of school, I tell her I understand. I really do understand because I have them for her too, but we are not becoming paralyzed by the fear. I am helping her replace some of the worry with excitement, (or as she says "distract me mommy") and she is already using coping tools that I wasn't able to until recently. Every new subject or activity that we heard about for her new school I would get excited for her and tell her how amazing first grade would be. Her poker face wasn't as good as mine, and she was fighting back tears. Her bravery impressed me though. It was hard to stand amongst a class of kids and watch them all say hello to one another in a more familiar way than she was able to. They all knew each other from Kindergarten and no one else seemed scared or upset.

Everyone has been really nice and friendly, even more so than at the school she attended last year. The big difference though is that we both had a close friend at the old school and don't really know anyone here. In this area I think she might actually be doing a bit better than me. She has found a few people she wants to hang out with. One of them she was a bit off on her judgement and at our first get together at this girl's house revealed that maybe she was a bit less sweet than she originally seemed, but she has navigated with the kids nicely. I feel a bit more lonely for my bff's lately. I know it takes time, but I am missing my cool interesting, edgy, smart fun friends. I am sure there are some people that exist living in this new part of town but I haven't met them yet.

I know it takes time, and the same message I am conveying to my girl, I need to heed myself. Little by little. It's only September and I heard from another parent last year that the adjustment to the new school year really settles in by Halloween. I think it's safe to say Twig will be more than at home by then. As for me, if I don't feel more settled by Halloween I'll be the one with the white sheet over my head.