Welcome to my world
Won’t you come on in
Miracles I guess
Still happen now and then
It’s the end of the school year, that time when one activity after another presents itself, and sometimes we must choose between them and do what suits our family and doesn’t necessarily please anyone else. I want to share with you a few moments of wonderment from the past couple of days. A school event gave way to dog-nursing, Bible Study gave way to school concert, and potluck dinner at the high school gave way to family reunion pizza night.
I’ve been going to end-of-the-year concerts at Big Red Dog Elementary School for many years. #1 Son was first a student there in 1991-92. Wednesday night was the last for my children, as The Princess sang with her class under the direction of the music teacher. Over the years, we have dreaded these concerts. One year, when #1 Son was in 3rd grade, #2 Son began crawling under the chairs in auditory distress when the strings played! Usually, I sit with the Father of My Children, and we indulge in catty remarks, an old habit of ours at these events, but one I’ve been trying to break. This time, he was away (more on that below), and I went alone. I brought my knitting, as I was close to the end of a sock. I got there early enough for a front-row seat (the menfolk usually end up getting me to stand in the back, so this was a nice change). And I enjoyed the whole thing! The 3rd-graders were adorable, the 4th-graders had a great soloist on the title song as well as cha cha dancers, and the 5th grade, well, they had a case of Senioritis that would have made high school students proud. Very amusing. The Princess was not thrilled by the attitude of her classmates, but she didn’t let it ruin her evening, either.
Her dad, meanwhile, was in that Non-Contiguous New England State, collecting #1 Son from Formerly Methodist, Currently Hiptastic University. It’s Senior Week, the dorms are closed, but American Story Project Theater Company (a group of FMCHU students) performed its play about a circus fire, and #1 Son was there playing Emmett Kelly. The play is going to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August, and the rest of us are hoping to go and see it there.
#1 Son’s re-entry occured while I was chairing a board meeting yesterday, and let’s just say that I hurried home when it was over. Could there be many things much nicer than a big hug from your 20-year-old? He could use a haircut and a shave, she said like an old lady, and I’m looking forward to the time he takes his belongings upstairs, but seeing him come running to the door to greet me was joyful. There is a West Coast Girl in the picture — perhaps that is what we will call her — and I anticipate a summer of phone calls and text messages for him.
But we had to take a break from our reunion that I might shuttle #2 Son to his audition for City By the Sea Wind Ensemble. He has played his clarinet in this group for a year-and-a-half, so this audition is more about his placement for next year than a worry about whether he will be part of it again. He spent the hours after school warming up and practicing. On the drive there he joked about nervously forgetting all the fingerings. When we arrived at the University, he went upstairs and I parked the car. By the time I got to the audition area, he was already in a practice room. But all I could hear was a squeaking worthy of 5th grade band students. What was wrong?!?!?!!!
Well, as he put it, he was having “the worst technical difficulties of my life.” His horn had been reluctant to come apart at home, and not too pleased about being put back together again, and it was not making the sounds it should. He finally had to go into the audition room and tell the Wind Ensemble conductor that his horn was not working and he did not know why. Dr. Conductor gave a sort of smirk and indicated the old fellow sitting there with him. #2 Son handed over his horn, which Old Fellow took apart, examined, blew into and considered. Turns out Old Fellow is a woodwind expert. In fact, not too long ago, #2 Son’s teacher, Dr. First Clarinet, told him to take the horn to Old Fellow for some routine maintenance. Within moments, he used his fingernail to tighten a tiny screw and handed the horn back to #2 Son, who then played it beautifully. Phew!
In the midst of all this activity on Wednesday and Thursday, my cell phone was on the fritz, I had a funeral, an interment and two board meetings to chair, and of course Molly has been sick, too. After chasing all over town all afternoon to drop the phone at the Sprint store, go home and then take #2 Son, go back home and then go back to the phone store where I ended up buying a new phone altogether (goodbye, Barbie phone! Hello more subtle phone in a champagne rose color.), we finally went to pick up pizza at City By the Sea Pie Company. We do this on the first night home every time #1 Son comes back from college. As we sat around the dining room table, we gave thanks for each other as well as the great ‘za. And then I got the first sign that Molly is really feeling better when I felt her paw on my arm as she sat beside the table, and saw the eager look in her eye and heard the insistent “roo-roo!!!”
Yesterday, a fellow chaplaincy board member said she doesn’t know how people like me do all they do: full-time work, serving on boards, wrangling a family. Those are all the things that make my life, well, mine. It has never been uncomplicated. I don’t like it when one thing pushes another aside, but I’m happy to have made all those choices this week of family over work or community. I’m grateful that my church folk not only understand but encourage these choices. And I’m thankful for this family. (Just don’t judge me on my housekeeping, because it is usually the thing that gets the shove when push comes.)