Christmas & Clarinets

I woke up this morning to my oldest son playing Christmas songs on his clarinet at the breakfast table. I know, that makes us sound like some sort of artsy Brady Bunch. The reality is that we’ve had to fight tooth and nail to get that kid to practice, because failing band can only happen when, well, you don’t practice. Ever.

Failing band is like failing P.E.  How is it even possible?

But all of a sudden, he likes playing clarinet. Right around the time of his winter concert, he gave up the fight, and started playing. He’s the kind of kid who can only handle a lot of structure for so long before he starts rebelling.  You could blame it on the fact that he spent a good chunk of his younger years in Waldorf education and doesn’t like the regular public school setting he’s found himself in.  You could also blame it on the fact that I am his mother, and am much the same way.  See quote from my old blog, below:

I’m self-diagnosed with Deskophobia – a strong aversion to a desk job.  The symptoms of this illness include claustrophobic reactions (tears, shallow breathing, and the strong need to get out) whenever I’m required to answer phones or push papers to make someone else rich.   Emotional side effects include the overwhelming knowledge that I’m wasting my life, time, and talents on pointless bullshit that’s not only unfulfilling to me, but steals time from my family life, and usually pays jack shit.

Okay, so whatever the reason for his lack of desire to do as the system requires, the kid is freaking talented.  He reads music, and also plays by ear.  The other day, he walked in from the back yard, where he likes to practice  (I’m positive our neighbors hate us between our chickens and our clarinets) and said, “Hey Mom, listen to what I just figured out.” Then, he proceeded to play Pretty Girl From Michigan by The Avett Brothers.  He smiled, and I told him that I always hated people like him who didn’t have to try, they could just play. I then went into monologue about how my family never promoted playing music and I had to find that myself – I’m still trying to figure out how to really play a guitar, and writing ramshackle songs – and therefore, no matter how much they may hate it, they will always, ALWAYS, play music.

Why? Because I want them to remember there is art in the world.  I want them to remember their hearts.  I want them to know what it feels like to resonate along with your instrument, to be part of a group, to share their talents, to bring people together.  It’s almost Christmas time, and that’s what it’s all about, in the end, right?  People coming together, sharing what they have, getting through hard things (like building good habits, or breaking old ones) and accepting one another, in all our stubbornness and quirkiness and loveliness, too.  And when you wake up to Christmas songs over bowls of oatmeal you can feel like all the hard work was worthwhile and it all does finally lead to something.  You’re welcome, kid.

Merry Christmas.


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