Divide and Conquer

A while back some good friends or ours tried desperately to explain to me a concept remotely related to sports and probably parenting called “man-to-man versus zone defense.”  As the mother of three very young children, I think, despite my still-pitiful knowledge of sports, that I finally get what she was talking about.

When you have more than one child, you constantly have to figure out how you’re going to supervise them in a way that ensures their safety while simultaneously allowing you to maintain a shred of sanity.  This gets tricky, say, in children’s museums (or the beach or the playground or the park or . . . okay, pretty much anyplace where it is not socially acceptable to tether them) when everyone wants to or needs to go in different directions.

The Newport Jazz Festival, which we have attended every year since Oscar was a baby, has always posed a particular challenge.  For Don, as a musician, this festival is a true pilgrimage in his own backyard, a two-day concentration of some of his favorite artists fifteen minutes from our home.  I have always done my best to respect that fact; so Don taking one child and me the other wasn’t part of the plan for this particular activity.  I always took both boys as much as possible so that Don could hear as much music as possible.  But every year, as strollers gave way to little boys who wanted to stop, drop, and wrestle, things got increasingly complicated. Our departure was always dictated by a combination of the boys’ propensities that day as well as the weather.  One year we were able to stay almost the entire time; another year we had to leave after just a couple hours.

This year, though, for the first time, Oscar, at nearly six, let us know that he wanted to “be with the adults” for the Jazz Festival.  His dream is to one day go to the Regatta Bar, a jazz club in Cambridge, where he plans to hear some jazz with Don and “sip ginger ale at one of the tall tables.”  And today he proved that he is going to be able do it–and sooner rather than later.  For the first time in six years, we were able to divide and conquer: Oscar heard jazz with the adults, and Edgar, August, and I did what we do–went for many walks, looked at the water, heard some music, ate some ice cream, rolled down hills, had light saber battles, indulged in a little face-painting, found some feathers and spiders, and thoroughly enjoyed our day.

I don’t have as many photos today of Oscar as I usually do after a day at the Jazz Festival; but I have something else–immense pride in and utter amazement at how much he has grown.   Today I looked at August–cute as a button in his stroller, happily nibbling on the snacks placed intermittently in his tray, and I thought of Oscar five years ago–roughly the same age–at his first festival doing the exact same thing.

Today Oscar joined his father in one of his favorite places doing one of his favorite things.  The musicians might have been singing today, but something tells me Don’s heart might have been, too.


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