This most definitely means I’ll have to attend. And, sit through piercing renditions of “Mary had a Little Lamb” by the 4th grade band for a full 30 minutes before the real fun begins – when I’ll watch the elementary school’s Holiday Spectacular for the 5th year in a row.
Of course, sitting there for three hours straight, I’ll probably only catch a glimpse or two of my own children. I’ll strain to see them, dodging left then right, from my spot in the back row peering through the gaps left between other parents’ heads and fighting the sea of video cameras poised to capture every magical moment. I know going in I’ll be in the back row because I’m always in the back row. I’m stuck there because I am forever late. But I suppose my tardiness doesn’t really matter because I don’t have a shot at getting a good seat, anyway.
If I truly aspired to sit front row or second or even next to last, I’d have to camp out all night on the school’s front lawn – like crazy (or young) fans do for tickets to rock concerts. People seem to think Lady Gaga is playing at the annual elementary school holiday show, and with seating limited and demand high – everyone from parents to grandparents, aunts, uncles, first cousins, second cousins and first cousins twice removed want in – you have to be there when the doors open.
But none of this is my actual problem.
My problem arose a few weeks ago when, on the morning of auditions, my daughter decided she was going to try out for a trumpet solo. Now, I knew students performed solos every year, but I was unaware auditions were held. I’d always assumed the music teacher selected the most talented students. My daughter, I knew, would not qualify.
Her lack of talent, though, is primarily due to failure to put forth any effort. The thing is, the kid hasn’t practiced a day in her life. Not once. She doesn’t know a single song, and she’s barely squeaked out a note.
Of course, she was all enthusiastic about playing the trumpet at the beginning of the 4th grade year when students are first permitted to play instruments. She implored us to let her take up an instrument, and my husband, who agrees to anything Lily asks, consented. The next day she happily carried home her big black rectangular box. She ran to her room, tore the trumpet from the case and blew her heart out.
And, then, she never picked it up again.
The morning she revealed her intentions to snag a solo I thought, Poor, kid. She’s gonna get slammed. Then I reconsidered. The rejection might actually be good for her. It would teach her an important lesson: The value of working hard to achieve a goal. I did feel a twinge of guilt and sadness, though, as Lily originally wasn’t going to mention her plan to me. She wanted to surprise me with her solo.
That afternoon when Lily returned home, she announced she got the gig. What? I couldn’t believe it. How was that possible? The only thing I could figure out was that no one else had tried out. When I inquired about the audition process, I discovered everyone who wanted a solo got a solo. So that explained it.
Certainly, giving all kids who try out recognition is nice, and I’m glad the music department wants to encourage all students, but I was hopeful about the necessary life lesson my daughter would learn from the experience: You don’t get everything you want; you have to earn it.
My second problem with the current situation was that my kid now had to perform when she had no business performing – and in front of a packed house. I couldn’t have that. I told her she had to practice every night until the concert. God willing, it doesn’t take more than two weeks’ time to learn Jingle Bells on the trumpet.