On Sunday evening my nine year old son did something that simultaneously floored me and made be beam with pride.
I’d just finished singing the encore at the concert that my choral a capella group, the Corenno Singers, had put on. It had been a wonderful evening in the most idyllic of settings, the Palladian church in Ayot St Lawrence, the hamlet famed for being the home of George Bernard Shaw. I caught a glimpse through the tall slender church doors of the sheep grazing outside as we tailed off my favourite set ‘Lullaby of Birdland’ arranged by the superb arranger Fabio Alessi. Other friends had performed piano, cello and oboe, and a super talented 12 year old boy, Oscar Jack, had his composition for Oboe and Piano performed by his godmother, Anna (our choir director). Friends were scattered throughout the audience, our kids climbed trees and kicked balls about in the interval as we sipped on wine and nibbles. A special evening.
Before I tell you what he said, let me explain that for past couple of months, he’d put up with my practising my harmonies or melody. I say “put up with” because the piano is in the sitting room and whatever is sung or played in our house is heard everywhere (its not a big house). He would regularly moan “I’m fed up with hearing that song!” the cheeky blighter. He’d come along on Sunday reluctantly because his un-thinking Uncle who was dog-sitting let slip that he was going to miss the Hungary football match. Nice one. And what 9 year old boy likes to sit still listening to boring grown up music anyway?
Well, what did he do at the end of the concert? He came up to me in front of everyone, threw his arms around me and exclaimed “Mummy, you were brilliant!” Had he not had his arms wrapped around me I might have fallen over with shock.
I had predicted a nonchalant shrug of the shoulders and a half smile saying “It was Okay”. And to get a hug and in public?! This is a boy who, of late, rarely displays physical affection; despite being a very cuddly little boy, he thinks it now uncool.
All that rehearsing, the giving up of my Thursday evenings, dragging myself out on days I really didn’t feel like going anywhere all felt so worth while. It always does, but this time, it felt more so. And why? Because I realised that my son (and musical daughter who also gave me a very special sparking smile) saw that their mother doesn’t just organise their lives and pack their lunches,chase and chivvy, cook and sort of clean, nag and kiss, love and embarrass, and stare at a computer screen. She can also work hard at something else, stand up in front of a bunch of people in a half decent dress and pull of a half decent concert. And make a song sound 100 times better when sung with 4 others.
I realised that this was a deeply important thing that my children had witnessed. It was a lesson not just that they’re parents are more than parents, but in what they can do if they apply themselves: work hard at something they love with other people, for no money, and entertain others.
Now that’s entertainment.