Sunday, June 7, 2009

Small Moments

Pearl is about to finish elementary school. Imagine many platitudes here about how fast it has gone, how startling it is to wake up and realize this tiny baby I brought home is now about to enter middle school. 6 years has seemingly dissolved into the past and here we are about to pass a major educational milestone.

When we were first entering the process of adopting I let go of any expectations that I had about how things would be, honestly it was the path of least resistance. I didn't want to deal with any dissapointments so I just opened up and let things happen. When Becky chose us to parent Pearl it was her doing not mine. I held out my arms and received this little bundle, took her home and got down to taking care of her. Without the encumbrance of genetic attachment I was free to watch Pearl emerge from babyhood into toddlerdom and onto childhood. Because she was not biologically mine I never looked at her and thought oh look she likes that because I liked that. She was herself and my job was to watch and see who she was and help her do a good job at being that person. She is an amazing person all on her own.

As she is entering middle school the kids have to choose an elective, Art, Band or Choir. Pearl has been in the 5th grade band and was taking piano lessons. She showed natural ability with both so when it came time to choose an elective and she chose Art I was a bit stunned. I thought perhaps she was doing it to placate her dad or me, not sure there. I suddenly felt strongly that I had to intervene. God no I thought not art, don't choose art. Art is hell. I know. When I look at my graduating class from design school, the practical approach to art, very few of my classmates even work in their field. Pearl's dad who is a talented artist by most accounts and has acheived some aclaim over the years struggles to this day with his career. Very few people have the chutspa to acheive anything in the world of art. Pearl dabbles with art but she shines where music is concerned. I explained all this to her dad, saying that we should keep her in band and teach her about art on the side, we have about a dozen combined years of art education under our belts and decades of experience between us, I think we could muster up a few lessons, perhaps get her painting some nice watercolor still lives. I have no musical ability, Pearl's dad has some but we have no formal training. Pearl is a natural performer, she can read music already, sings non-stop, and has the most beautiful long fingers with which to play whichever instrument she chooses. We filled out the form, Band as the first choice, Art second.

Then came the Middle School band concert awards night. Pearl has been playing with about 10 other kids in the 5th grade band. They have performed a few times and while they have their moments it often sounds like cats being stepped on. Well you can imagine my pleasure when I heard what an 8th grade band sounds like. The 7th graders performed Lonely Bull and even the 6th graders got jiggy with their pieces, coming on stage in dark glasses playing something that sounded like a kookoo clock gone wild. It was wonderful. In between the groups, members of the High School Band made impassioned pleas to the middle schoolers to stay in band as the High School needs them, I am sure many of them will. When it was the 5th graders turn they did well and at the end the whole group, about 80 kids in total were on stage playing 'Cardiff Castle". Pearl was up front and I could see her spring to attention as they played the piece, it was powerfull, all those musicians playing together and at the end and it screeched to a finish, Pearl looked at me and said that was so cool! She remarked that she had never played it so fast but that she had hit all the notes, the power of the group had pushed her along it seemed.

Today we went to replace her rental flute with a newer one and I asked her again how the performance experience had been. She raised her arms up and said she could feel the music inside her as they all played, coming up through her. I felt delighted for her. She is now looking forward to fall and to band and having that feeling again. When we got home she actually spontaneously practiced her flute for awhile.

I wish I had been more of a group participater as a youth and that my parents had maybe helped guide me a bit more, I might have ended up a chemist, who knows. I often feel very much at odds with the whole group thing, art is perfect for me, I don't fear being alone. Pearl on the other hand is enormously social and as a single child (for almost 11 years) she will benefit from working in a group. Plus when you are in a band you automatically belong, how great is that? I am really proud of her and so glad I get to be her mom. I am looking forward to seeing what the future holds for her.

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