The kids were squirmy.
Alex, at least, looked apologetic about it, like "But I'm only 6-nearly-7! How do you expect me to sit still on this chair?"
Julia, true to form, had no apologies. She just flailed and wiggled and leaned and annoyed her brother and, at one point, while I had her strapped into my lap with my arms, she arched her back so she and I were nearly eyeball to eyeball, only her face was upside down, and, while staring at me, she pulled her lower lip down (or, in this case, up) to her chin. It was a bizarre sight. She laughed silently as I sat her upright again and hissed at her to behave. Sometimes she would twist her little body around and grasp my face, staring intently into my eyes and then turn my head so she could whisper in my ear.
Have you ever had a five-year-old whisper in your ear? For one thing, they don't always get the idea that whispering is supposed to be a quiet affair. For another thing, there is no polite distance left between her lips and my ear. So the effect is ticklish, slightly spitty, and louder than necessary. "But Mom, I just have to tell you something…(dramatic pause)…I just love you." Fine, now be quiet and sit still.
We were at a flute and classical guitar concert in a library on Friday night. Bill, my husband, was the guitarist. This is the second (I think) concert we've brought the kids to. Maybe the third. I don't think my blood pressure can take too many more of them.
At least this time I was smart enough to sit several rows back, strategically ensuring that taller people would populate the space between the musicians and the wiggly children of one of those musicians.
Ours were the only children in attendance. The majority of the audience was made up of older folk, probably long-time members of the community who attended the weekly concert series of their local library faithfully. They sat straight, and still, and paid attention, and, as far as I could tell, certainly enjoyed the music – and the musicians themselves.
Bill and Barbara have been playing as a duo for about fifteen years – longer than I've known my husband, in fact. So long that they communicate easily with an arched brow, a slight nod, or a n0-I-can't-make-eye-contact-now-or-I'll-lose-it chemistry. Like an old married couple, but minus the bickering. Or the laundry.
The kids adore Barbara and her husband, too, so bringing the kids to the concert should be a fun, relaxing family-ish affair. And it is. Well, except for me during the concert part of it.
I made the mistake, in my desperate attempt to keep the kids on their best pretty good not throwing things behavior, of telling them at some point that "After this one, there are only 6 more songs." Six more songs was easier than trying to explain two more pieces of three movements each. Well anyway, from that point on, every time there was a break in the playing, both kids would turn to me, eyes expectant, and stage-whisper "Is it only three more songs?" or whatever number it was at the time.
Silver-haired heads would turn and smile and chuckle. I would turn red and smile weakly and pray for lightning to strike me.
Fortunately, though, Bill had introduced the kids (and me) at some point earlier in the concert, so that, I think, cut us some slack with the rest of the attendees. "Ohhh, it's the guitar player's kids. Well, you know what they say about the doctor's/policeman's/cobbler's children…" And that explains it. Bill also mentioned to the audience that the kids KNEW they needed to behave because if they did, they'd get ice cream after the concert.
Yes, we firmly believe in bribes to elicit good behavior from our children in certain situations. This was on of them.
"Only one more song?" Alex hissed at me.
"Can we get ice cream now?" when that movement, "Night-club 1960" from Astor Piazzolla's "Tango" was finished.
"Soon," I said.
The audience clapped, and Bill and Barbara took their bows and made their way back up the aisle toward the door to the rest of the library, where their guitar and flute cases were.
The clapping continued, and the guy who coordinates and hosts these Friday evening concerts made his way up to the front (there was no stage) to say a few words, thanking everyone for coming, and thanking Bill and Barbara for playing…and then he kind of reached toward Bill and Barbara with one hand, beckoning them forward.
I heard the word "encore" whispered somewhere. It hovered in the air near my ear, grinning at me. It looked a bit like Julia.
Pleeeease no encore….
I know. I'm totally selfish. The encore is a gift. It's that little extra something, like the free glass of limoncello we used to receive at the tiny Italian restaurant we loved, years ago. And the encore is a thank you as well. Thank you for thanking us for playing for you.
But. It would mean one more song. One more period of however many minutes of holding Julia the Octopus in my lap and trying to silence her loud whispers.
But instead of an encore, Bill and Barbara stood and smiled and bowed again and thanked everyone. Bill mentioned that the music was on his stand, if anyone cared to look at the wild notes of Michael Daugherty's "Yo Amaba a Lucy" (I Loved Lucy) or any others, and if anyone had any questions about it, feel free to ask.
And when he said "any questions," Alex's hand shot up. He sat as tall as he could, arm reaching for the ceiling, silent, waiting to be called on.
I had no idea what Alex was going to say, but if you had asked me, my guess would have been something like "Now can we go out for ice cream?"
Bill was looking elsewhere at that moment, so Barbara brought his attention back around to Alex.
And Alex spoke up clearly to say "I just want to say thank you for teaching me how to play guitar."
That's MY boy.
There was a general murmury sound of "aww" at that, and I made sure to soak it all in.
He is a sensitive, thoughtful boy at times. I sometimes wonder what great thing I did to deserve him.
And then, of course, Julia stuck her hand up, too. That wasn't at ALL predictable, was it?
The room waited while she thought of something to say…"I just love you."
She is sweet and sincere. At times. When she's not a wild, hissing octopus on my lap.
I sometimes wonder what I did to deserve her, too. Heh, heh.
(Oh – and in case you were wondering, yes, the kids had their ice cream. Barbara, who knows the area, brought us to a little ice cream stand not too far from the library. Julia had a cone of vanilla, Alex had a cone of mint chocolate chip. The cones – and Bill had ordered the "kiddie cone" size – were ENORMOUS. They ate as much as they could, but no way could they finish.
And after that, we all went out for dinner.)