Sunday, November 09, 2014


I realized yesterday that almost all the richest parts of our family life center around evenings. It used to just be true of J and I individually, but it has bled over into the whole circus.

We are homeschoolers so preferring nights could very well mean I'm doing something wrong in directing our school days, but I'm strangely okay with that. Some of the homeschoolers I read about seem to have some remarkable, deeply spiritual experiences with their incredibly attuned children daily. School for us lately has been a lot more productive but also much more practical. We complete tasks, we get through our curriculum, and the boys' brains are worn out by the end of the day. Sometimes they say or do neat stuff, but they do that despite me and any particular intellectual fantasias playing out in our day. In this season of our lives checking off the boxes and enjoying part of a portion of some of it is a win.
Primrose's daily checklist includes destroying the living room.
I don't want to intimidate all the average kids, but as you can see she's kind of a prodigy in that area.
About 2/3rds of the way through his schooling checklist, Toby takes a break with his pit crew. 
This week I've been playing the opera Der Fledermaus, which is apparently hilarious and entertaining. It's not visible to me from under the stage, but the audience is laughing and Isaac keeps quoting things from it today. I let him come last night with my mom, and he ate it up. He always likes to come to my concerts, and has impressive perseverance for a six year old. My goal is that when he's an adult he can be elitist and picky about art in the exact way the brothers were on Frasier. Kidding.

During each of the two intermissions, he thoroughly explored the Keller.
His favorite was the top floor because it was so quiet up there,
and it was fun to look down on the spinning event floodlights.
Partway through the third act, I became certain that Isaac was restless and bored. I was thinking of all the things I should have done: played him recordings, read him the synopsis, watched parts on YouTube. If only I had done better to prepare him maybe he would like it. He's only six, I chided myself. It's way past his bedtime. As soon as I made my way up to him in the glacial flow of exiting patrons after the final curtain, I knew at a glance I was worrying needlessly (sense a theme in this blog?). He had connected with the whole performance. In fact he was so excited about the whole thing I don't think he took a breath all the way home. He kept the program because, as he pointed out incredulously, "It has a whole bunch of other things I can go to!"
So happy with his lovely date!
I took another gig next week. It's stretching our gig-per-month tolerances but I've never been asked to play with this little orchestra before and they're playing a piece I've only ever played one other time. It's a standard audition piece (Mendelssohn's Midsummer Night's Dream) and the other time I played it was very rewarding. We practice little snippets of audition pieces for years (years within years!), and after deconstructing them to a molecular level it's nice to finally deploy them in their native environment every once in a while. I'm hoping that leaving a crockpot out and being sure to give J some time to himself on the few nights available will make up for me being out more than usual. Plus, Thanksgiving is nearly here. Phew!

Giving up these extra evenings is both selfish and sacrificial. Playing with people has a social component I miss as a homeschooling mom (nobody makes poop jokes! Unless maybe it's a brass rehearsal...). There's often an artistic benefit, which is of deep personal value to me on so many levels. I want my kids to see their parents living rich lives and maintaining excellence in both personal and professional ways. The money is helpful, and while I'm being practical I have to admit I also hate to say no to gigs because they stop calling. Nobody likes that.

We have most of our fun as a family at night, so I do hate to miss any. We go for walks with flashlights, we retreat each to our own corners, we have long tickle fights, we watch weird Chinese TV shows in Mandarin for practice and fun, we used to read long books but I've slacked off with that because SOME one went and brought a toddler to the party. Both J and I have strong tendencies toward introversion and evenings in our bubble full of small proprietary Wards are easily our favorite times. Excited as I always am to play, I think it's a sign of a good life that deciding whether to take on more work involves complicated checks and balances. G'night!

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