Friday, November 21, 2008

My Cup Runneth Over

Jackson is my hero. I mean it. Today my 4 year old faced his biggest fear head-on. He performed in his first cello recital.

I took violin lessons from 2nd grade through college. I was never forced to go to lessons or practice or play in recitals. I chose to do all of that. I decided I wanted to play violin like Isaac Stern (a hero all 2nd graders idolize, I'm sure), and my mom obliged. My dream was to play "Flight of the Bumblebee," which was my favorite song at the time. (What? It wasn't yours? I told you I wasn't normal.) I had a number of teachers over the years (some for many years and some for only a short time), and although each of them taught very differently they all had one thing in common: recitals--not negotiable. Each time a recital approached I got that same sick feeling in my stomach. Oh, and juries in college? It makes me want to puke just thinking about them. It is basically what it sounds like: a room full of people judging your every move as your hands shake so badly you can barely hold the bow let alone play a song. So, no, I was not a performer. I never did learn to love playing in front of people. (And I never did learn to play "Flight of the Bumblebee." Maybe someday...)

So, the reason I tell you all this... I woke up this morning with that same "gonna throw up any second" feeling in my stomach that I used to get before one of my own recitals. All day I kept worrying that Jackson was experiencing the same thing, but he sure hid it well if he was. This afternoon I suggested that we practice his song once before we pack up his cello and he said, "Okay, but I'm already pretty good." Well, there's nothing wrong with his self-confidence, anyway. But then I made the mistake of calling it a recital. Okay, a little background info for you: Jackson told me he would not perform in a recital. So, when Miss Kathleen (his cello teacher) asked if he would perform with her at a retirement home, we told him that it wasn't a recital but rather an opportunity to minister to some grandmas who didn't get to see kids very much. How can you say no to that? He agreed and was happy to do so. So, when I slipped and called it a recital, he looked at me with this look of betrayal. "So, it was a recital after all?" his eyes seemed to say. I quickly corrected my language, but I think he knew something was up. When we got to the retirement home, he looked around and anxiously asked me what would happen if he made a mistake. I am so thankful that we just attended a cello recital the other night in which two of the students messed up enough that Jackson noticed. We had a lovely conversation later about how sometimes people make mistakes and no one was angry or upset with them and everyone still enjoyed their music. So, I reminded him of this conversation and he nodded knowingly. I swear this kid has a soul so much older than 4. He sucked in his cheeks and rocked on his heels as Miss Kathleen tuned his tiny cello and set up their chairs. When she told him it was time to play, he nervously walked to his little chair, sat down, and played his song like a champ. I wanted to stand up and scream, "That's my kid. See that brave little boy? He's mine!" but I restrained myself. After the recital Daddy and I took him out to eat at the restaurant of his choice and gushed all evening about what a great job he did.

I asked him what it was like playing in his first recital (and I used that word because it's over now). He said, "Well, I was pretty nervous at first. But when it was over I felt kinda proud."

I told him that he has another recital coming up in a few weeks and that he's going to play "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star." He started to protest when Ei chimed in with, "What will I play?" I told him that he probably wouldn't play in the concert because he's only had 2 lessons, and he looked so sad. Jackson beamed at him. "Ei, when you're four you can play in concerts like me."

We have had a bad month: sick kids, hospitals, dying relatives, funerals, break ins. It's been rough. Today my little man played his cello for a room full of elderly people while his fan club cheered him on, and somehow the world seemed right again. I am so proud of him I could burst. He's my hero, I tell you.

And I leave you with a picture he drew for his cello teacher. It's of him, happily playing his cello.


becca73180 said...

That picture is should print that and frame it or something

grace4cyn said...

What a great picture! This is a keeper!

Love all your post!

Kerry said...

Precious post and picture! Jackson's got some artistic talent for a four-year-old. And congrats to him for his performance!!! Where did her perform? I think it's fabulous that YOUNG kids start playing/performing in front of crowds early on because it becomes more of a part of them. Good for you and good for EI wanting to play in a concert as well. Precious. Now... I need to go and catch up on some of your posts about the break in...