“Teach Your Children” by Crosby, Stills and Nash is a deep tune. – man.
I sang it in church when I was a teenager at “Folk Mass”. I didn’t know what the hell it meant then.
Now I do.
It’s all about the Parents and the kid learning from each other.
So, my daughter Maggie, is 12 now and in 6th grade. She is bursting with creativity… really.. it is not containable. She is very musical.Plays the piano, sings a lot. Has a nice soprano voice – but we thought, nice voice… not amazing, but nice.
When Maggie was in 5th grade, she set her sights on the school play, “Oh! What a Knight!” – She rehearsed and rehearsed to audition for the part of the loveable, singing dragon. She decided not to go for a lead role, she said “I’m not ready for a lead, but I think I can do a supporting role.” Every night until bed time, she sang. Every morning – before school, she sang. She was so nervous the day of her audition and the following days until the parts were announced. I picked her up from school and I knew the moment our eyes locked- she didn’t get the part. She cried non-stop for two hours.
She got a non-singing part. She played the depressed Jester. She was good. 5th grade ended.
All summer, she sang. She sang at the piano. She’s one of those weird people who can listen to a song on the radio and sit down and play it on the piano. She used to be really difficult to get to practice the piano. If she’s allowed to play by ear, she can sit forever, humming… finding the notes… it’s cool.
We watched musicals all summer. She saw Les Mis at the Paper Mill Playhouse in N.J….. she sang… “On my Own”… over and over….”Castle on a cloud”….
Middle School starts. It’s like Thunder Dome for tweens. All hell breaks loose in the identity department.
She signs up for chorus. She practices- she learns the piano music…she tries out for a Holiday Concert solo. She doesn’t get it. Now she’s mad. Really mad.
So she keeps singing.
She sees Wicked on Broadway for her birthday. Her brain explodes. She NEVER STOPS SINGING. Defying Gravity. Over and over and over.
(Husband and I go a little nuts)(We liked Wicked a lot)
The Middle School Musical is announced “BYE BYE BIRDIE” – Holy cow. I was in it in high school. I was the Mom.
Mags sets her sights on KIM- the lead. She watches the movie, over and over. She learns the piano music. She sings and sings and sings.
She gets called back. The only non 8th grader to get called back. It’s between her and 2 other girls.
She sings again. (She thinks she’s got it)
She doesn’t get it.
She gets “Reporter #2″ – she cries. She’s mad. We put together a slammin vintage outfit… in the end, I watch her at the cast party. She’s loving all of the new friends. She’s enjoying the camaraderie of the theatre.
When it’s over- she says “I miss it.”
So, she sings. Singing Adele mostly. Then she comes home and says, “I want to do NYSMMA” – I do not know what that is but I know there is singing involved.
It’s the NY state educational version of American Idol. You sing in front of judges and they score you. (gulp- a nightmare to me) “Are you sure you want to do this- you aren’t a trained singer” “A lot of these other kids are trained” —- “YES!”
She is assigned “I feel Pretty”- from West Side Story. Luckily- she loves this play. She learns the piano music. She sings it 24/7. There are some notes in this song that orbit Jupiter, they are so high.
She rehearses at school. She sings in front of all of the other kids doing NYSSMA.
The Saturday morning of the performance… I’m all knots in the belly. I think she’ll choke. I think her voice will crack. She’s nervous so I keep saying… “Just do your best. I’m proud that you are doing this- what ever happens- I’m proud.”
My husband, Maggie and I wait in the hall outside of the door and watch another Dad wait nervously…. out comes his son – crying. (Oh crap)
She doesn’t look back at us. They close the door. The piano starts that staccato … bum babbum ba bumba bumba… and out comes a voice like a bell… clear and resounding..through the door… through the halls…
My husband and I look at each other- our jaws hit the floor and we burst into tears.
Out comes the music teacher and we ask “Was that Mags?” – Mags had to stay in the room and sing scales.. and when she walked out- she was beaming.
“He said to me You have that kind of voice in 6th grade?!?”
Her scores came back a month later- perfect score. Wow. I told her “See what you did!? You set your mind to something and you worked hard and you killed it!”
The Spring concert solo auditions were announced. “ABBA” – Dancing Queen. Abba all night- Abba all day..on the piano… in the shower… in the car….
She got it. She got the solo.
“Teach your parents well,
Their children’s hell will slowly go by,
And feed them on your dreams
The one they picked, the one you’ll know by.”
Rejection – it didn’t stop my kid. She didn’t take NO for an answer.
She worked harder. She set her jaw and her sights. She believed she had it in her and she made it come out. ON HER OWN- SHE DEFIED GRAVITY.
And I learned from her.