Thursday, October 05, 2006

How It Happens

You know those overscheduled children? You know, those kids who practically have their own BlackBerries to keep track of all their appointments and activities and can never have spontanteous fun because their childhoods have been ripped away from them and replaced with endless carpools? The ones you swore your child would never, ever be?

Well. We have one of those.

It started with Hebrew school. That was my bottom line. When we dunked the Mermaid Infant in the Mikvah and made her a Person of the Book, I promised the rabbis who signed her conversion certificate that she'd have a Jewish education. So by golly, a Jewish education she shall have. Plus, it will give her something to reject later should she so desire. So, that's one activity right there. (Actually, it's only two Saturday mornings per month right now, but that gets ramped up in a few years.)

Then she turns out to be a crazy-flexible little monkey who needs must be constantly moving in some way, and rather than continually pull her down off the curtains we resorted to something slightly more formal. After dabbling in ballet, creative dance, and gymnastics, she seems to have settled happily into...circus class. Once a week, on the other side of town. The schleppage is considerable, but it won't promote anorexia and maybe it will pay off when she's older and can get us comps to the Cirque du Soleil so we can watch her somersault through hoops of fire and have coronaries (us, not her) for free. But in the meantime, there's another chunk of time gone.

We do occasionally take time to smell those proverbial flowers, though. One night last week MG got ready for bed lightning-quick so the two of us went for a pajama walk around the corner and down the block. It was dark by the time we headed back towards our house, along the block where the cherry trees are. As we approached the corner to our house, we heard jazzy piano music coming from one house, and stopped outside to listen, musing to each other: was it a CD? No, it sounded like live music. It just had that live sound, and it wasn't quite perfect. Sometimes there was a woman singing along--maybe the pianist, maybe someone else--and sometimes there was just the piano.

It was dark outside, and the music coming from the lighted house felt magical to me. I was sure it was a friendly place. I couldn't bring myself to urge MG home. Instead, I coaxed her up some of the stairs towards the high porch, so we could hear better. I had this crazy sense that we could walk up to the porch and poke our heads in, and our musical neighbor would be charmed and happy to see us and would invite us in to sing.

MG is more cautious than I am: she went partway up the steps, but wouldn't budge any further: we were trespassing! This was a stranger's house! So we stood on the concrete steps, listening for a while. Finally, we left. As we headed for our house, the piano-player began to bang out "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen," and I sang along and we danced, MG twirling under my arm in the enchanted night.

The Renaissance Woman's bottom line, by the way, is music. One instrument, any instrument. If MG hates it she can switch, but she has to do something. Last year she did choir (half-hour sessions twice a week before school, so no biggie.) When school started this year, about a month ago, RW asked her if she was up for piano lessons. Yes! She was! She'd love piano lessons! She's ALWAYS wanted piano lessons, her whole life! (Who knew?) So, RW started calling and emailing around in search of a teacher who was fun and low-pressure and who also knew her stuff. Formal music training is not so much my thing; I'm the only non-trained musician among my spouse and immediate family, so I left it to her and more or less forgot about it.

A few days ago, she told me she'd found someone. A young woman who actually works with the circus people who run MG's circus school. She's available one afternoon a week when our overscheduled girl is also free, she sounded smart and pleasant on the phone, and she lives right around the corner!

Yup. She's our "Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen"-playing neighbor. So, what can we do but sign MG up for one more activity? I guess it was fated to be.

6 Comments:

Blogger PPB said...

3 activities isn't that many....and I love the idea that she's in circus school.

11:28 PM  
Blogger Phantom Scribbler said...

Circus school is teh brilliant idea, all right. I have a feeling that my little monkey will have the build (and possibly the aptitude) for gymnastics or dancing, but I'm not so thrilled about the body-image aspects of that.

I agree that 3 activities aren't outrageous for a six-year-old. Especially such perfectly fated ones as these!

7:30 AM  
Blogger elswhere said...

Well, she signed up for choir again, so technically it's four activities. Plus a couple days a week of after-school care, which isn't a structured activity per se but does interfere with MG's preferred routine of strewing small plastic items around her room.

Still, only two of them involve driving somewhere special at a particular time, so I guess it's not so bad. And she does *love* circus school.

And we vetoed soccer, because the setup was crazymaking: you sign up, *then* they tell you the team they're assigned to, which could meet any day of the week and anywhere in a couple-mile radius, you don't get a choice. Finally, we understood why "soccer mom" is a synonym for "at-home mom who spends her afternoons driving her kids hither and yon": you have to have that kind of flexibility to accommodate the way the leagues work.

12:44 PM  
Blogger Psycho Kitty said...

Oh, but this IS destiny. Obviously.

8:58 PM  
Blogger susan said...

Music seems more like a way-of-life thing than an activity (perhaps a rationalization about some of our own choices for Curious Girl). How cool is it that the piano teacher is the neighbor you heard?!?

7:06 PM  
Blogger liz said...

They sound like excellent activities. And Circus arts is much more cool than plain ol' gymnastics.

7:23 PM  

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