The Music House

There is a house, a music house, where everyone is playing . . .

With thanks to the authors of The Napping House, a favorite book of ours–the serial nappers that we are–we can now officially dub our home as “The Music House.”  For Christmas Oscar received a small-scale Fender Stratocaster and Edgar a set of drums sized for children two to five years old.  And today, yes today, we went to The Violin Shop in Providence to pick up Oscar’s violin.  At his request, he starts lessons after New Year’s.  img_8141

When people asked what the boys were getting for Christmas, the look on their faces when the word “drums” was uttered was alternately terrified and pitying.  A three-year-old with drums?  Edgar with drums?  A little less terror and pity was revealed at the prospect of Oscar with a guitar but only until they learned it was an electric guitar–one that needs to be plugged in.   Jokes about earplugs and Excedrin ensued.  But I remained giddy at the prospect of a Fender and a pair of drumsticks in the boys’ hands. 

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To me, music–even music formed by nascent musicians–is anything but noise.  I want to hear every note and am confident that any headaches I get will be from sources completely unrelated to Oscar’s and Edgar’s budding musicianship.  As clearly the only non-musician in our family, I am in awe of what Don can teach them and more than a little envious of what they are able so seemingly effortlessly to learn.  Surrounding them with music and providing them with ample opportunities to make music, to me, seems a gift they will one day value if not treasure.

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A Visit from the Fire & Police Departments–Seriously

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Every parent longs to give their children a memorable Christmas:  reindeer food that magically disappears sometime in the night; Christmas cookies for the Man in Red that are no more when the morning comes; and an early afternoon visit from our city’s Fire and Police Departments.

Ah, yes . . . what is Christmas Day without a half-dozen substantial men with equally substantial equipment traipsing through your house looking for a possible fire?

Christmas Eve as we sat around in our diningroom, which houses our Christmas tree, exchanging gifts with Uncle Mike, we noticed our overhead light repeatedly dimming.  It was at the time only a minor cause for concern as we live in house–built almost 11o years ago–that is known for its idiosyncrasies to say the least.   Plus, we had had wine.

On Christmas morning, after feasting on pumpkin muffins and “simply having a wonderful Christmas time,” we prepared to get ready to go to Grandma and Grandpa’s.  I was upstairs putting the finishing touches on my uncomplicated ablutions when Don called up to me saying he smelled smoke above the light fixture in the diningroom.

Uh oh!

I rushed downstairs and smelled it, too.  A call to “911″ and the fire fighters were here within moments. 

False alarm–and we can all exhale . . . that is until we get the bill from the electrician who will now have to come in and figure out what the heck happened. 

In the meantime, we got to Grandma and Grandpa’s . . . and under the tree were these costumes waiting for the boys (along with a conductor’s and doctor’s costume).  But since we weren’t visited by a conductor and/or a doctor, this photo seemed most appropriate.

Though we often wish for ourselves and others a holiday filled with pleasant surprises, I think we’ve reached our quota for this Christmas.  

So despite Oscar and Edgar’s rapture at watching our Fire and Police Departments move through our house, here’s wishing a New Year filled with pleasant happenings.  Let’s leave the “surprises” in 2008!

How Now, Guitar-Playing Cow?

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As one who is seldom at a loss for words, tonight’s “Yuletide Eve”–courtesy of Oscar’s inimitable preschool–has me speechless.   dsc_6491

As the ox of the Christmas Pageant, Oscar was serious and single-minded.  He knew his role and fulfilled it with dignity and purpose only occasionally slipping in a little subtle air guitar-playing for his fans.  dsc_6652

Later, during the sing-a-long portion of the show, Oscar was given a ukelele (well, actually several as the first two weren’t quite right and were handed off to his teacher for a replacement).  He played along as the other children sang and maintained an expression of determination and focus. 

But perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of tonight’s show was the display of camaraderie, love, and acceptance that exists here.  In this school, students’ differences are not merely tolerated–they are embraced.    If your ox has a propensity for the guitar, it is worked into the show; and if your Magi can sing and dance, he sings and dances.  It is a concept that works because it is right, and it makes us feel as though we have found a second home. 

Oscar’s pride at the conclusion of his show as he greeted his entourage was evident and infectious.  And now, as he sleeps and snuggles the small stuffed brown ox (complete with horns) we gave him as a gift tonight, I have no doubt he is snug and secure in his accomplishment; and we feel at peace that we have found a place that will encourage him to be who he will be and will celebrate all that he is.  As his parents, we couldn’t ask for more.

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We really, really, really do attempt to encourage Edgar to eat with utensils.  We really do.  But if he’s not applying sauce like lotion to his arms or marinading his extremities in his latest bowl of soup, he’s using food items as props–for example, a breakfast sausage as a cigar (and I blame that corn cob pipe-smoking Frosty, not Castro, for his knowing what a cigar is).  Some day we will find this all very amusing (if we don’t already–wink, wink)!

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A Hairy Afternoon

We can’t quite put our finger on what it is about haircuts that sends Oscar into a straight-out tizzy.  He has had only positive experiences, never been traumatized by the process, and has (or had) probably the nicest hairdresser anyone could hope for. 

After his last haircut, which could best be classified as a minor disaster, I asked, “Why such a tumultuous display at the salon?  He offered to “draw a diagram” to explain himself.  I told him that this wasn’t the time for diagrams but rather solutions.  He told me he didn’t like the hair going down his back and in his eyes–that it was itchy and irritating.  I asked him what we could do about that for the next time, and he came up with the idea of bringing a spare shirt and his safety goggles from his tool set. 

Sounded good to me.

Yesterday Oscar even offered to go first–before his brother, who, not at all surprisingly LOVES a haircut and sits in the chair with a lollipop and stares at himself lovingly for the duration– and to sit “like a big boy” in the chair as opposed to on my lap. 

But then it all fell apart. 

We wound up having to go into the salon’s restroom for the haircut for the noises Oscar was emitting, with me holding him on my lap as our poor hairdresser tried her best to negotiate his gyrating head with a sharp implement in her hand. 

Oscar knew what the consequences were and promptly handed over his Polar Express train to us when we returned home–without even being asked.  But knowing that this couldn’t continue, we talked–for a long time–about why this kind of behavior is not acceptable.

I told him that for at least the foreseeable future–until he could garner a little self-control in this setting–we would be doing haircuts at home.   Unfazed, he sat in the kitchen chair, asked me to give him a little haircut; and as I clipped a half-dozen hairs or so, he sat quietly, still, and smiling.

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He said he was just more comfortable with me cutting his hair–that he liked my scissors and the way I cut.

Unprompted, he then asked if he could write a letter of apology to our hairdresser, and ended it with “I hope we can still be friends.”

At the end of the day, not every question can be answered and not every problem has a solution.  But this time, after tears and a lot of talking, we were able to figure things out.  And though I have absolutely no idea how to cut hair, you can bet I will try my best.  But what made me most proud in addition to his willingly accepting his consequences was Oscar’s readiness to make amends, to make things right.  That is the boy we see every day, the boy that I wish our hairdresser and the half-dozen ladies in the salon yesterday had seen, the one I know they’ll see next time when Oscar simply accompanies his brother to his haircut.